In what is more an echo-chamber than a sequel, Patrick Gale returns us to the landscape of Notes From An Exhibition, unfurling the complex web of a Cornish community with an empathy that touches clairvoyance and a sure eye for significant mundanity. A Perfectly Good Man is the faithful register of a community’s fortunes, its gentle malignance, and one priest’s struggle to live virtuously.
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 simply Pendeen and Morvah’s most visible misfortune: beneath the surface of the parish newsletter, in the life of Barnaby’s wife Dorothy, in that of his son Jim, in that of their neighbours Modest Carlsson and Nuala Barnes, and in particular in the life of Father Barnaby himself, lies vast, inarticulate sadness.
Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight in 1962. He spent his infancy at Wandsworth Prison, which his father governed, then grew up in Winchester. He now lives on a farm near Land’s End. His most recent novels are FRIENDLY FIRE and the Richard & Judy bestseller NOTES FROM AN EXHIBITION.
PATRICK GALE will be a guest of the 2012 Melbourne and Brisbane Writers’ Festivals