A moving and intensely felt examination of the lengths to which we will go to seek protection and security in others. Returning to haunted Cornish landscapes familiar from other Gale novels, it is the story of individuals in search of a family. Dido, the nine-year-old heroine and emotional centre of Patrick Gale's latest painful comedy, knows that the adults who surround her, the adults who should know better, depend on her for happiness. So who is she to turn to when her short life turns upside down and tragic family history threatens to repeat itself. Eliza, the clever, depressive aunt who has brought Dido up, and whose brilliant academic career has foundered due to the demands of unlooked-for motherhood, tries and fails to give Dido the happy normal childhood she never had herself. Her ex-husband Giles needs Dido back in his life, feeling it has lost all meaning, all substance, without her. Then there is Pearce, the new love interest in Eliza'a life, desperate to give Eliza and Dido the security and protection they need. But will Eliza let him? Does she love him or is she using him to restart a stalled career?
Only Dido, unheard of in the clamour of others' needs, has the power to make or break the happiness of these children in adult clothing.
'What is delightful about Gale's fiction is that it so warmly and convincingly illuminates ordinary lives and interests.' Daily Telegraph 'Exerts the unmistakable force of a novelist in the process of discovering a new, strong voice. With this alarming and technically very skilful romance, he is decidedly a man to watch' Mail on Sunday 'Flawless. Gale is a master of context and background, flinging wide the perspectives of his dramatic personae with exemplary patience and generosity. In "A Sweet Obscurity"'s world of powerful, vatic females, where men are dreamers or ditherers, Cornwall, so far from being the land of failure, achieves a solidity and integrity whose graces are triumphantly redemptive.' TLS 'This is arguably Gale's most questioning, troublesome work. It amuses, startles and occasionally bewilders. "A Sweet Obscurity" is worth every minute of your time.' Independent 'Intriguing and impressive. His greatest strength lies in his sensitive evocation of those transient, often indefinable states that reveal the truth about people's deepest desires and discontents. A memorable study of a child forced cruelly, even tragically, to grow up too soon" Sunday Times
Patrick Gale was born in 1962 on the Isle of Wight. 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.