A Perfectly Good Man
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A Perfectly Good Man

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  909 ratings  ·  171 reviews
The new novel from Patrick Gale, author of Richard & Judy-bestseller 'Notes from an Exhibition', returning readers to his beloved Cornish coastline.
Paperback, 405 pages
Published March 3rd 2012 by Fourth Estate (first published March 1st 2012)
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Lari Don
It’s almost possible to forget how wonderful Patrick Gale’s books are, because they aren’t showy or loud.
This book has a wonderful structure, heading back and forth along the lifeline of Barnaby, a parish priest (Anglican, I think not, Catholic, because he is married with a family.) This results in an odd patchwork effect – you often find out someone’s fate before you actually meet them for real as they enter Barnaby’s life or leave it. This patchwork is mesmerising, gorgeous and very intriguin...more
Antony Heaven
Jul 20, 2012 Antony Heaven rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Patrick Gale has written many wonderful books and A Perfectly Good Man, published in 2011, is no exception. Set deep in Cornwall, this is a story that is told from multiple points of view as the bigger story that draws the different strands together gradually unfolds.

Gale’s Cornwall brings together 21st century themes in an ancient setting. His book is peopled by vicars and atheists and humanists and the undecided. His writing explores age-old themes of good and evil and faith and choice and of...more
Anne
My favourite books are ones that I have to keep picking up when I know I should really be doing something else; those that as I approach the end I am torn between wanting to know how it all turns out but sad that I will have to leave the characters behind. Most importantly I have to care about the characters and ideally like at least one of them so that I can empathise with them as the story progresses. A Perfectly Goood Man did all of those things.

Although written in a gentle and easy to read...more
Michael
I really wanted to like this book, it was an interesting concept for a novel but I never connected with any of this book or the characters. The book revolves around the community effects of Lenny’s suicide in front of a priest. This small community and the stories of past and present play out in this book. For me the people never felt real and I think that first began with Father Barnaby Thomas feeling to fake. Having grown up in a small town with a minister for a father I’ve seen how people rea...more
Liz
Patrick Gale is a fantastic writer. He really brings his characters and story to life. I really liked his writing style and the many moral dilemmas and themes within this book. However, I was a bit frustrated with how neatly all the characters came together. I appreciated how lives are linked and the depth to which we all have our 'own story' but it was just a bit simplistic for me and a little predictable after a while. Some of the most interesting characters such as Modest where never really i...more
Huw Rhys
What a lovely book.

I don't usually like books that mess around with chronology, but this book's format of jumping around, backwards and forwards, through various of the characters' lives to introduce another important piece of the jigsaw works perfectly.

It's a story about life, death, love, spirituality, relationships, families and religion, all treated in a beautifully sensitive, gentle way.

It has extremely likeable characters, even though they are nearly all fatally flawed in their own little...more
Mandy
I enjoyed this quite a lot, but it had a lot of faults, such as too many characters who didn't have much to do with the main plot and added nothing to the tension. There's one whole sub-plot that simply doesn't need to be there. And because the author's attention was focussed too widely, he didn't have time to really bring the main characters truly to life. But nevertheless, it's certainly a "good read" and raises some interesting questions, so I do recommend it in spite of my reservations.
Jane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jules
I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. Having read "Notes from an Exhibition" a few years ago & recently attended an author event with Patrick Gale I was in a hurry to read it. However the subject matter & plot didn't appeal so when I found myself engrossed in the life of a country priest I was surprised!
As much as anything I respected this novel for the way it was crafted. Each chapter was written from a different character's perspective & it went backwards & forwar...more
Jane Markland
Much like it's companion, Notes, this emotional story is just the kind of book I love to read. I have long been a fan of Patrick Gale's work and have read most of his books. Most gratifying for me is the constant themes of place (Cornwall), families, especially dysfunctional ones, and morals. So many of them lie within these pages and as ever are beautifully portrayed and described. Another of his continual themes is religion and Man's struggle within the confines of its boundaries and ethics. I...more
Anne Bryson
I like the way Patrick Gale makes his characters seem so real. It is almost as if he loves them into being, even the unpleasant characters are dealt with understanding. With a light touch, Gale gets right under the skin of his main subjects. In this, the "good man" Barnaby is depicted with all his struggles, loves, intentions and weaknesses- if weaknesses they are as they do make us human. Dealing with the currently unfashionable subject of religion and belief, Gale manages to convey a deeper si...more
Leonie
What this book accidentally ended up illustrating to me is the importance of being intelligent as well as well meaning. Obviously, with a title like that Gale is setting himself a challenge, and he tries to show that he knows it's challenging by showing his "perfectly good man" as imperfect and making mistakes but still being ultimately good. Barnaby ends up a shade too dim, self-satisfied and unreflective in my eyes, despite the effort made in his characterisation. Also, I was deeply annoyed by...more
Helen
This is a story about a good man who did one 'bad' thing. It was one of those books that I quite enjoyed while reading but as I closed it at the end, thought it was a bit of a waste of precious reading time.

Patrick Gale has gone back and forth in time but very helpfully tells you not only the character narrating the chapter but his/her age as well. As these characters age through the book, the age of the central character, the priest, actually goes backwards from 60 to 8. Confused? I don't think...more
Teresa
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Being Cornish it is lovely to read a relatively accurate portrayal of a local area and its people. Found this hard to put down.
Jayne Charles
Another great read from Patrick Gale. I don’t think he is capable of writing a bad book. This is stylistically similar to the excellent “Notes from an Exhibition” and borrows some of its characters too.

The focus of the novel is Barnaby, a priest in a small Cornish town, who faces a crisis in the opening chapter. From there the narrative moves backwards and forwards in time, revealing complexities in relationships and personalities and examining the basis of Barnaby’s own religious convictions. T...more
Louise
My third Gale book I think, and I've enjoyed them all.. I think he writes really well for his characters, a lot of whom are very simple.... and ordinary.

I like when they pull a character from another favoured book over, so was nice to have the familiarity there.

the different voices, and different times mingling the characters lives together gave a great narrative I thought,often I find it frustrating to know whats going to happen before it does, but this time, it suited the book perfectly.
Nick Kinsella
A perfectly reasonable book. Ticks through the gears as it goes. For me I never quite got the impression that Barnaby was entirely believable as a character, whereas Modest Carlsson stood out as a wickedly creepy guy. I suppose its easier writing bad guys as they're generally more interesting than good guys. I quite liked the 'moving the camera angle' approach to each of the chapters so that it fell on each of the characters throughout their lives.
Luke Devenish
Ah, this is another heartbreaker. And so DAZZLING structurally. I bow to that sort of cleverness. Love the cunningly non-chronological ordering of things - brings about some terrific pay-offs. Plus a wholly unexpected, yet highly satisfying collision with Notes From an Exhibition in the second half. Terrible twist for Dot at the end. Devastating. Subtle comeuppance for Modest. Had to think about that one afterwards. Lovely book.
Megan Jones
Although I did enjoy A Perfectly Good Man, for me it is not a brilliant read mainly because there is no real story to it, even the blurb is not sure what it is about. What this is instead is a collection of characters written beautifully that as the book unfolds all connect with each other in the small community village this is set in. I did find the book to be quite moving and the different aspects of each characters life was interesting as was the variety of characters that Patrick Gale has cr...more
Carey Combe
Sentimental enough to bring a huge lump to my throat and with well-drawn believable characters it is perfect holiday reading.
Caroline
I really like the way the book is crafted but I couldn't engage with the book overall
Christine
The apparent serenity of parish life in Pendeen and Morvah is disturbed when 20-year-old Lenny Barnes takes his own life in the presence of Father Barnaby Thomas, the charismatic, indefatigable local priest, whose enduring service has made him a popular member of his Cornish community.

Though Lenny′s death is publicly mourned, the tragedy continues to wound those closest to him, and its reverberations seem to threaten a fissure between the Parish and its inhabitants. And yet Lenny′s death is simp...more
Susan
The apparent serenity of parish life in Pendeen and Morvah is disturbed when 20-year-old Lenny Barnes takes his own life in the presence of Father Barnaby Thomas, the charismatic, indefatigable local priest, whose enduring service has made him a popular member of his Cornish community.

Though Lenny′s death is publicly mourned, the tragedy continues to wound those closest to him, and its reverberations seem to threaten a fissure between the Parish and its inhabitants. And yet Lenny′s death is simp
...more
Helen
The novel opens with quite a shocking occurrence as 20-year-old Lenny Barnes, who has been paralysed in a rugby accident, commits suicide in the presence of the priest, Barnaby Johnson.
Written from the view point of a number of different characters, each chapter focuses on a particular character at a particular age. By doing this the author allows the narrative to build, and at the same time, fragments of information and different perspectives on the story are revealed to the reader, which promp...more
Sdwoodford
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beccy
I'd like to give it 3.5 stars. This book didn't really look at the issues of suicide as I'd expected but instead spun a story inside a story inside a story gradually and not so gradually bringing the characters together and coming to a conclusion. I loved the setting, even though it wasn't the Cornwall of my childhood holidays and the way the story was revealed through time and from different viewpoints but was left wanting to know more about most of the characters. As for the ending....just a l...more
Fiona Glass
This book really grew on me. Early on, I wasn't sure if I was keen. The style is very much 'tell not show' and one or two chapters (where Carrie and her father went to London, for instance) were rather more of a wade than if the action had been 'live' and direct.

However, gradually the characters got under my skin and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I might. Carrie's love story is unexpected and lovely, and the subject of assisted suicide is given added poignancy by Barnaby's relationship w...more
Nick Sayce
This is a tough book to review. The writing is elegant, even romantic at times. The characters spread their emotions across the page as if it was a canvas, giving you access to their inner most thoughts. And yet the book just does not grip me. I don't really worry for the characters or care as much for them as I think I should.
Yes they are rich and fully formed but they don't feel real enough, it's more like you are reading about daydreams than real people.
I do have an issue with carrie. The fir...more
Diane Will
I like the way Patrick Gale writes, quite descriptive in parts but it adds to his story writing. Sometimes this can annoy me in books. A gentle read and nice jumble of different characters, the main one being Barnaby Johnson, the local parish priest who is summoned by a local lad called Lenny, who was paralysed in an accident playing rugby. What Barnaby doesn't know when he goes to see him is that Lenny is planning to commit suicide and asks him to pray for him.

What then happens turns the whole,...more
June Travis
"A perfectly good man"....Barnaby is a good man but no one is perfect, although he strives to show us that his intentions towards others are founded on showing kindness, humility, love and redemption.This book is concerned with the causes and effects in relationships. Each chapter captivates the stories of each of the characters with are inevitably woven together as part of a great read...enjoy...
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Patrick was born on 31 January 1962 on the Isle of Wight, where his father was prison governor at Camp Hill, as his grandfather had been at nearby Parkhurst. He was the youngest of four; one sister, two brothers, spread over ten years. The family moved to London, where his father ran Wandsworth Prison, then to Winchester. At eight Patrick began boarding as a Winchester College Quirister at the cat...more
More about Patrick Gale...
Notes from an Exhibition Rough Music The Whole Day Through Friendly Fire A Sweet Obscurity

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