The Facts of Life

Patrick Gale

A young composer, Edward Pepper, is exiled from his native Germany by the war, struck down with TB, and left to languish in an isolation hospital. But then he falls in love with his doctor, Sally Banks, and his world is transformed. They set up home in a bizarre dodecahedral folly, The Roundel – a potent place, which grows in significance as it bears witness to their family’s tragedies and joys. The years pass, and Edward watches from this sanctuary as both his grandchildren, Jamie and Alison, fall prey to the charms of Sam, an enigmatic builder, and have to come to terms with some of the tougher facts of life.

Reviews of The Facts of Life

  • ‘Patrick Gale offers us so much more than facts in this extraordinary blockbuster of a novel. Its exploration of family ties and tyranny is encompassed within a deft narrative. Much like the late Ivy Compton-Burnett, Gale presents us with a family saga which both questions and defies present day morality. Always fluent, Gale manages to be both brutal and witty. His analysis of the family tree is rooted in compassion and insight and expounded resoundingly well.’ Time Out

    ‘Wonderfully vivid, this novel is peopled with characters who compel you to care.’ She

    ‘Gale’s best and most complex novel. Gale is both a shameless romantic and hip enough to get away with it. His moralised narrative has as its counterpart a rigorous underpinning of craft. This reads, page by page, like a superior gushy blockbuster, but has, as part of its form and subject, a sober consideration of the place of sentiment and rigour in life and art.’ New Statesman

    ‘Brilliant. Vastly readable.’ Marie Claire

    ‘It is impossible to put “The Facts of Life” down. A rural English blockbuster. It is beautifully done.’ Daily Telegraph

    ‘Deftly characterised, deeply involving and relevant. A memorable achievement.’ The Times