Notes from an Exhibition
Some books are great and you want to turn the pages faster and faster because you are so enjoying reading them but then other books are really fabulous and you want to turn the pages slower and slower to make them last. This story is one of the latter. Only when I discovered that Patrick Gale has a decent sized back catalogue to look into did I allow myself to keep reading to the end at a reasonable pace. I know I'm going to keep thinking about this story for weeks to come (at least).
We meet manic-depressive artist Rachel at various stages of her life; as a precocious student, a promiscuous teen and an unloving mother; but never as a likeable character. Her lack of maternal feeling makes it difficult for the reader to have compassion for the tortured artist, who seems nothing more than a vessel for her mental disorder.
The novel is written fro ...more
A fine, intelligent novel that is both humourous and affecting.
A wonderful picture of creative energy impacted by mental instability/intensity and of mental health impacted by the creative drive. Of a family affected by both. Of a family of Quakers with one dissenter to add counterpoise. O ...more
It was a wonderful story about an artist, Rachel Kelly, who suffers from a bi-polar condition that has afflicted so many gifted artists and writers. The exhibition referred to in the book's title is a retrospective of the artist's work, and each c ...more
Gale is a great writer, and an insightful observer of family dynamics and people's psyches. His books are well-crafted, especially "Rough Music" which was an incredibly layered and brilliantly structured book, in my opinion.
With Cornwall as a backdrop, the narrative touches on mental illness, family, love, religion ...more
The beginning of the story was interesting but just okay. Soon everything changed and the whole story went faster and took you cmpletely with itself. I liked a lot the thing of not being a time ordered story in which one thing is being told ex ...more
Each chapter begins with a note from an imagined posthumous exhibition of Rachel Kelly. A work is described and dated for example : "MING FROG BOWL (1960). Oil on board. Dating ...more
See, this book is about a family somewhere in England. The mother is a painter, and is bipolar. The father is a Quaker, and there are four kids. The mother dies, or at least that's how the book opens. And little by little, the book unravels the mysteries that the ...more
The central character, known as Rachel Kelly for the most part, is, we quickly come to learn, a talented artist, but she is troubled throughout her life with periods of mania and depression.
At first I was not sure if I was very keen on the way the chapters move suddenly and unpredictably in time backwards and forwards between the characters, but I think as the novel progresses, this pattern becomes ...more
I didn't like it very much. It was predictable and felt artificial in its style. There were many irritating little inaccuracies that just got on my obsessive compulsive nerves (no, Petroc would not have been revising for his GCSEs in 1986 as they weren't introduced until 1988 - and he probably wouldn't have had a CD player that year either).
The na ...more
I read it as much more of a character study than simply a narrative, and enjoyed it this way. I got to know these characters, their history, and explore how they each dealt with family, mental illness and death. No character was perfect, but neither was anyone entirely fla ...more
I spent a long time thinking how I was going to rate this book and I am still not sure about it.
Overall, it is an average read. It might make a nice choice for a book club as it's a nice story and interesting themes are explored, but it is not particularly moving or fascinating. Indeed, few of the characters really stood out, and I was never really gripped by the mystery of what had happened.
This puts ...more
The different perspectives also gave me a chance to like people - Hedley, Anthony, Winnie. And even when I didn't like characters - Morweena and Rachel, I ...more
My first by the author, it's an interesting concept that I haven't seen before.
Artist Rachel Kelly dies while painting, and her life and its puzzles are slowly revealed to us through chapters headed by the exhibition notes for her paintings at a posthumous art show. Nice idea, but any links to the following chapter didn't really come across for me, though I did enjoy listening (I read this as an audiobook).
We learn more about Rachel's early days with her future husband (whose Quaker na ...more
Notes from an Exhibition is a wonderful, warm story of a family. Artist Rachel has been very successful but plagued with bipolar disorder. Husband Antony is more a carer to Rachel, but between them they manage to bring up four wonderful children: Garfield, Morwhenna, Hedley and Petroc. The novel jumps through time via a series of notes from a posthumous exhibition of Rachel's work, filling in the gaps ...more