Review: Take nothing with you by Patrick Gale *

[AD/gifted; I was sent this book, by Headline Press, in exchange for a review. Photograph also contains two gifted books.]

I was recently gifted a copy of Take Nothing With You, the new novel by Patrick Gale, which is out today. Over the course of about four days, I read the book from cover to cover, and I have a few thoughts I would like to share.


I love this cover. For very literal reasons, I think it would be perfect for a summer holiday; it’s a seaside town, after all! I also really like the kind of ombre affect, where the sky background blends into various colours, complete with seagulls. It’s also perfect for any blogger or influencer on Instagram; imagine the flatly you could get out of it!

The book itself: 

I’ve never read a book quite like this before. And I’m still digesting it-maybe I need another word-and trying to decide what I think about the book.

Take Nothing With You is set into two parts, past and present. But they aren’t bridged enough for me to fully understand the book, or even reach a conclusion. The present day protagonist is having treatment for a type of cancer bought about by being infected with HIV. By contrast, his child self is dealing with a whole host of issues: living in an old people’s home, whilst tentatively learning what it means to be gay, with a host of other issues. And throughout this, there’s the music of the cello, a shining port of refuge.

I have an issue with the parents in the book, enough so that I felt enraged; angry at their selfishness, disgusted at what they do to their child, ind of upset. (A mark of a good author is that their book becomes too real, right?) The mother, having survived a car crash, turns to Christianity; she uses her injuries as an excuse to be mean. She also becomes bigoted, leaving her son in the car of a Priest, who injects him with a sedative. (Yep, abandoned. Without telling the father, or asking her son his thoughts, despite being old enough to vocalise an opinion.) The father is… well. I don’t have the words. Emotionally inhibited maybe? And he doesn’t manage to protect his son, caring more about money for some of the book.

But I love the ending. Because after all the fuss, the drama, the puttering around to please other people’s politics, there’s an inference happy ending. It has a kind of lyrical quality to it as well.


This is not the typical sort of book I go for, but I’m glad that I read it in the end; some of the passages, particularly those surrounding music and the theme of love. It’s good to read, as it has helped me with structure and language.

But this book is…. odd. It’s a portrait more than anything else, and there wasn’t really a plot. (You know, beginning, middle, end.) It’s beautiful, but it’s not for me.

To buy a copy of Take Nothing With You, visit Amazon.

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