Take Nothing With You
1970s Weston-Super-Mare and ten-year-old oddball Eustace, an only child, has life transformed by his mother’s quixotic decision to sign him up for cello lessons. Music-making brings release for a boy who is discovering he is an emotional volcano. He laps up lessons from his young teacher, not noticing how her brand of glamour is casting a damaging spell over his frustrated and controlling mother.
When he is enrolled in holiday courses in the Scottish borders, lessons in love, rejection and humility are added to daily practice.
Drawing in part on his own boyhood, Patrick Gale’s new novel explores a collision between childish hero worship and extremely messy adult love lives.
Take Nothing With You begins with main character Eustace discovering he has cancer. And realising that for the third time, he has fallen in love. As a successful, wealthy man who has worked hard to get to where he is, meeting Theo through a dating website has sparked something new and exciting in his life. Whilst Theo serves in the military, he and Eustace spend hours getting to know one another and slowly a bond begins to form. Preferring to keep Theo in the dark about his condition, Eustace enlists the help of his old friend Naomi. When he begins his radiotherapy treatment, he is allowed to take a few precious possessions with him in the lead-lined room. Over the course of the treatment, he listens to the cello music Naomi has installed on an MP3 Player, which transports him back through the years.
Alternating between past and present, the reader is allowed a glimpse into Eustace’s life in Weston-Super-Mare as a boy. Living with his parents in the residential home they run, a shy and awkward Eustace constantly dodges the grim atmosphere developing between his mother and father. When she books him a cello lesson with popular teacher Carla Gold, he unearths a passion that will drive him forward and help him find his way in the world.
I read this book slowly so I could savour it. Some books you wish could just last forever. This is one of mine. Eustace is a remarkable character. I loved getting to know him and following him on his journey. The worst part was saying goodbye at the end. Take Nothing With You is brimming with the simple joy of music and the true warmth of friendship.
With every sentence, Patrick Gale plumbs the depths of emotion in this story. He finds new levels of ingenuity, intelligence, insight, heart and humour and effortlessly draws the reader into the lives of his characters. He writes with flawless elegance and beauty. His books just get better and better. I can’t wait to see what he writes next.
I’m a ginormous fan of Patrick Gale. I was lucky enough to attend the North Cornwall Book Festival last year and I remember coming away so bloomin’ excited because Patrick mentioned a new book coming in 2018! This book is everything I’d hoped for and so much more!
Rich. Compelling. Insightful.
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Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight in 1962. He spent his infancy at Wandsworth Prison, which his father governed, then grew up in Winchester. He now lives on a farm near Land’s End. He’s a passionate gardener, cook, and cellist and chairs the North Cornwall Book Festival each October. His sixteen novels include the Costa-shortlisted A Place Called Winter, A Perfectly Good Man and Notes From an Exhibition – both of which were Richard and Judy Bookclub selections – The Whole Day Through and Rough Music. His latest, Take Nothing With You is a tale of teenage obsession, sexuality, betrayal and music-making. You can find out more on his website http://www.galewarning.org.
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Huge thanks to Georgina Moore at Headline for my review copy!