A Perfectly Good Man
Length Of Time In Possession : 9 months
Last July I read, really enjoyed, and highly recommended Notes From An Exhibition by Patrick Gale, the story of bipolar artist Rachel Kelly and her family.
My second Patrick Gale novel then is A Perfectly Good Man, it is not a sequel to the former but shares some crossover characters and has a similar literary device, building up a portrait of a mans life by taking snapshots of all the different people involved at different ages.
The good man in question is Barnaby Johnson, a local vicar in Cornwall whose story is told through his own eyes, as well as the eyes of his family and one or two parishoners. Each section introduces the character and the age they were in the time period this section covers. Dorothy at 24. Lenny at 20, Barnaby at 8 and so on. This tactic, also employed in Notes From An Exhibition is a device I really enjoy from Gale it really works, and so eventually we can see all of Barnaby's story from childhood to retirement.
There is something about the way in which Gale writes that I find completely engrossing, I get really involved in the world of the characters, but I also get a real sense of place and atmosphere.
Like "Notes" I felt this strong sense of the best of Christianity coming through the prose, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion and love. Barnaby may not be perfect, or indeed always good, he is flawed like all men, but he does the best that can be hoped for even with his mistakes. This is made even more clear by the juxtaposition of Barnaby to Modest, Modest has also made mistakes, Modest in some ways seeks to atone, but Modest will never be a good man, because his "good deeds" mask a less honourable intent, even when he tries to delude himself that this is not so.
If you haven't read Notes From An Exhibition I recommend doing so first, not because it's necessary, Perfectly Good Man isn't a real sequel, but because when the two novels do become linked through their characters, it was pleasurable already knowing who they were and so much about them.
In the end, this novel moved me enough to have a tiny cry when I finished it, this doesn't happen often for me. This is a really good book and I urge you to put it on your own "to read" list.
Destination : Ebook storage