This novel revolves around different viewpoints within a family and articulates how family life works. Just like the notes from an art exhibition that allow complementary insights into an artist’s world view so Patrick Gale’s narrators give tantalisingly different perspectives to the story as a whole.
Although the mother of the story, Rachel, is a gifted artist with bipolar disorder the family doesn’t seem hugely dysfuntional but rather demonstrates a magnification of those eccentricities all families experience i.e what it is to be human in a social context.
Patrick Gale’s lingustic palette is extraodinarily exciting and the story unfolds with clear and passionate prose. The mystery of Rachel’s final hours in her artists studio, before she dies of a heart attack, are lovingly unpicked piece by delicious piece with the words taking the place of the artists brush. Gale gradually builds up up layer upon layer of vivid description until our understanding of this family is complete. Each of the four children has their own distinctive voice and the integrity in their personalities is carried through their narration as child and adult.
There is a whole joyous energy to the novel that made me want to go right back to the beginning and start again which I think I will! I give this one ***** 5 stars!