A beautifully crafted novel of war, Cornwall, and the relationship between a mother and son
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'Tender, evocative' TLS
'Richly engaging' Spectator
A Radio 4 Serial Fiction Book of the Week
'A characteristically tender novel about a young man growing up in the shadow of one war and the whispers of the next' Observer
'A wonderful novel about relationships, particularly between a mother and son. A compelling read, beautifully crafted and sensitively written' Irish Examiner
Laura, a laundress, meets her young husband when they are both placed in service in Teignmouth in 1914. They have a baby, Charles, but his father returns home from the trenches a damaged man, already ill with the tuberculosis that will soon leave Laura a widow.
As a new war looms, Charles signs up for the navy as a coder. His escape from the tight, gossipy confines of Launceston to a more colourful life in action sees him blossom, as he experiences the possibility of death, and the excitement - even terror - of a love that is as clandestine as his work.
'Stands with the best queer literary fiction of a historical bent, illuminated as it is by Gale's devilish wit and talent for both social observation and intricacies of character' Sydney Morning Herald
'A wonderful novel - a touching, utterly convincing portrait of the nascent artist' Mail on Sunday
'A deeply moving novel. The portrait of a complex relationship that constricted as much as it sustained is brilliantly done' The Tablet
- Published: Feb 02 2023
- 196 x 128mm
- ISBN: 9781472257420
- Cathy Rentzenbrink
I loved it. It's an incredibly evocative, enjoyable read...I didn't want it to stop. I wanted to stay in the world and carry on.
- Tessa Hadley
A lovely, generous, absorbing novel. Charles is made both 'of' and belonging to his place and world, while also not fitting into it. The war sections are so very good, so terrible and ugly and gritty. I absolutely believed all of it
- Joanna Cannon
You know sometimes, from the very first page of a book, you feel so at home and so involved with the story, it's as if you've walked alongside the characters all your life? Mother's Boy is one of those books. A sign of an incredible storyteller
- Neil Bartlett
Patrick Gale's Mother's Boy is a tour-de-force; the book is really a love-letter, to motherhood, and to the landscapes and townscapes of Gale's adopted home county of Cornwall. Most of all, it is a heartfelt tribute from one fine writer to another; a patient and subtle reflection on the tricky art of noticing - and enduring - what really matters in life
- Petroc Trelawny
Gale has a rare talent for evoking human relationships. Here he exploits his skill fully, richly examining the dynamics between mother and son, and between men and men allowed in extraordinary times to explore what they really mean to one and other
- Vivian French
I think Charles Causley would be incredibly happy - and stunned - if he were able to read your book. What you've done is extraordinary; you've somehow created a world that only Causley could have been born into and grown up in. His poetry calls up emotion; there's always much more than at first appears - and your story suggests, in the most sensitive and subtle way
- Louisa Young
Patrick Gale's writing has an unmatched ability to take you by the hand and just casually, quietly, lead you in, and in, and in. It all seems so simple, and then you're in tears
- Stella Duffy
Patrick Gale always writes so well of his men and of the women near them. In Mother's Boy his women shine as brightly as the men, his characters age and grow by themselves, alive in their actions, hopes and losses.
- Rachel Joyce
Mother's Boy beautifully celebrates the underdog. It is a celebration of love in hidden places, and love in ordinary places, and the courage required to be true to the person you are, when there is no road map to guide you. A sublime piece of storytelling'
- Eleanor Anstruther
Storytelling like this, from structure to sentence to imagery to sheer rolling belief in the world and its people - these qualities are a rare treat. Want to learn how to write a novel? Read this or any other by Patrick Gale
- Sarah Winman
Mother's Boy is further proof that Patrick Gale is that rare kind of storyteller - utterly engaging, compelling and unputdownable
- Philip Marsden
A wonderfully tender account of a poet's coming of age against the brutal backdrop of World War 11. Scene after scene is delivered with filmic intensity. Patrick Gale is a master of atmosphere, detail and the deep currents of latent passion
- Good Housekeeping
A gorgeous coming-of-age story - this tender novel will touch hearts
- Irish Times
'A gentle read'
- Woman & Home
'A beautifully nuanced story'
- Literary Review
'A powerful novel. The all-important relationship between mother and son is evoked with skill and vivacity'
- Town & Country Magazine
'He makes the ordinary compelling, the commonplace universal'
- Daily Mail
'Gentle . . . evocative'
- Mail on Sunday
A touching, utterly convincing portrait of the nascent artist'
- New Zealand Herald
The magic happens though when Gale takes his inspiration from lines of poetry or fragments of Charles' diary and gives him, and Laura, a rich and poignant life. A nicely woven, gentle tale of an ordinary life in extraordinary times, a tale of a boy born into hardship with no sense of self-pity, raised by his mother to be who he shall be. It's quite lovely
- Sydney Morning Herald
The complex, near-incestuous bond between mother and son is drawn with sharp-eyed affection, as is the small-town Cornish setting. It stands with the best queer literary fiction of a historical bent, illuminated as it is by Gale's devilish wit and talent for both social observation and intricacies of character
'Richly engaging . . . Brilliantly evokes Causley's native county in the first part of the 20th century . . .This deeply felt, elegantly written novel will be relished by admirers of both the author and his subject. '
'A fascinating look at the formative years and experiences of a complicated man, and the woman who loved him unconditionally'
- Times Literary Supplement
'A tender, evocative retelling of the life of the poet Charles Causley . . . Patrick Gale's descriptions of the power of ordinary things in two very different lives make Mother's Boy a moving biographical tribute'
'Deeply moving . . . Heart-warming and credible'
- Pink News
He deals sympathetically but honestly with his subjects. Gale helps modern readers understand that it was so very different then, and while much has changed, things can always take a turn (or a return) for the worse
- Irish Examiner
A wonderful novel about relationships, particularly between a mother and son. A compelling read, beautifully crafted and sensitively written. Highly recommended
A characteristically tender novel about a young man growing up in the shadow of one war and the whispers of the next, with his mother always watching over him