From the bestselling author of A PLACE CALLED WINTER comes MOTHER'S BOY, a superb historical novel of Cornwall, class, desire and two world wars
'One of the joys of Gale's writing is how even the smallest of characters can appear fully formed, due to a charming wickedness alongside deeper observations' Irish Times
Laura, an impoverished Cornish girl, meets her husband when they are both in service in Teignmouth in 1916. They have a baby, Charles, but Laura's husband returns home from the trenches a damaged man, already ill with the tuberculosis that will soon leave her a widow. In a small, class-obsessed town she raises her boy alone, working as a laundress, and gradually becomes aware that he is some kind of genius.
As an intensely private young man, Charles signs up for the navy with the new rank of coder. His escape from the tight, gossipy confines of Launceston to the colour and violence of war sees him blossom as he experiences not only the possibility of death, but the constant danger of a love that is as clandestine as his work.
MOTHER'S BOY is the story of a man who is among, yet apart from his fellows, in thrall to, yet at a distance from his own mother; a man being shaped for a long, remarkable and revered life spent hiding in plain sight. But it is equally the story of the dauntless mother who will continue to shield him long after the dangers of war are past.
'A writer with heart, soul, and a dark and naughty wit, one whose company you relish and trust' Observer
I loved it. It's an incredibly evocative, enjoyable read...I didn't want it to stop - Cathy Rentzenbrink
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
- Tessa Hadley
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
- Joanna Cannon
Patrick Gale's MOTHER'S BOY is a tour-de-force; a meticulously researched re-imagining of the early life of a man who you may never have heard of, but who for many years was the voice of Radio Four's Poetry Please; the Cornish poet Charles Causely. It takes us from kitchens to battleships, and through two world wars. But more than than just an evocation of history - much more - 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
- Neil Bartlett
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
- Louisa Young
Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight. He spent his infancy at Wandsworth Prison, which his father governed, then grew up in Winchester before going to Oxford University. He now lives on a farm near Land's End. One of this country's best-loved novelists, his most recent works are A Perfectly Good Man, the Richard and Judy bestseller Notes From An Exhibition, the Costa-shortlisted A Place Called Winter and Take Nothing With You. His original BBC television drama, Man In An Orange Shirt, was shown to great acclaim in 2017 as part of the BBC's Queer Britannia series, leading viewers around the world to discover his novels.