Love—common and uncommon, vengeful and transformational—is the theme of this superb collection from the bestselling author of Notes from an Exhibition.
From subtle tales of domestic unease to a story featuring a caravan that transports three generations of a family away from their small-town lives, author Patrick Gale proves in his second story collection that he is a master at mining the loneliness, yearning, and eternal optimism of the human spirit.
The lonely wife of a prison governor—and the only female on an inaccessible island—gets a lesson in angling from an inmate who will pay a high price in “The Lesson.” In “Saving Space,” a widower returns to a summer music festival to revisit bittersweet memories of his wife—and receives consolation from another woman’s ghost. In “Petals on a Pool,” a female author bonds with a male poet at a book convention in Hong Kong where no one has heard of them—until she sees something odd floating among the petals in the hotel’s pool. The puppy training lessons at the center of “Obedience” serve as the catalyst for the rekindled sex life of a couple when the husband is suspected of murder.
Gentleman’s Relish also features chilling tales of blood and revenge. In “Making Hay,” a senior citizen living in a retirement home conceives a diabolical payback in the form of family folklore told to her young grandchildren. And in “Cookery,” a son exacts a nasty retribution against his homophobic father when he whips up an extra-special dinner.
Some of these stories unfold like dreams—or nightmares—and others dissect with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Narrated with wit, glee, and surprising tenderness, this collection includes unsung masterpieces like “Hushed Casket,” in which a husband on his honeymoon discovers an old tea casket in an abandoned church that releases a macabre spirit, and suddenly, the homely spouse is transformed into an irresistible sex magnet.
Additionally included here are stories originally commissioned by BBC Radio 4, as well as “In the Camp,” which explores the childhood of Laura Lewis, the heroine of Gale’s acclaimed novel The Whole Day Through. With Gale’s sharp eye for detail and unerring ear for dialogue, this pitch-perfect, something-for-everyone collection is sure to lure readers in—and keep them hooked.