Article published on July 3, 2015.
Patrick Gale is a favourite author of mine so I was looking forward to his latest book and was not disappointed. It is a departure from his previous books in terms of both period and location.
The story begins with Harry Cane being incarcerated in a Canadian mental asylum undergoing various techniques to ‘cure’ him of his affliction. He is transferred to a more lenient institution where a young doctor is carrying out research into those deemed to be ‘deviants’.
We are told Harry’s story from when he was a stammering young man in Edwardian London, his marriage and becoming a father and eventually his falling in love with a man. He is forced to leave his wife and child behind and after seeing a poster announcing ‘Canadian Emigration’ makes his way to Canada to start a new life. He eventually settles in a remote town called Winter.
The contrasting scenes of Edwardian London and the harsh Canadian wilderness are beautifully written and observed. The characters are well drawn and are, by and large, likeable human beings with imperfections. Harry is a good man at heart and deserves better.
The story was loosely based on the Author’s own great-grandfather and this makes it all the more poignant.
It is an emotional read and highlights the fragility of mental health and the power of those that prey on the most vulnerable in Society. The book is a celebration of overcoming obstacles in love and life and accepting yourself warts and all.
Dorothy Flaxman, Bude, Cornwall
Personal Read 5
Book Group Read 5
WHAT WE ARE READING: Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume