The Whole Day Through (by Patrick Gale)

Sometimes I get sent books to review. Occasionally, I do an online questionnaire for a publisher, and get sent a book as a reward. This book is in the latter category. I'd never heard of Patrick Gale, but when the book arrived I thought it looked interesting.

'The Whole Day Through' is the story of Laura, a young and somewhat promiscuous woman who gives up her independent lifestyle in Paris to look after her elderly mother. Her mother is physically frail, but mentally extremely astute - she was, in her youth, an eminent physicist. Laura's upbringing was unconventional, leaving her very relaxed in some senses, and highly stressed in others.

Laura bumps into Ben, an old flame, who is temporarily separated from his wife. Ben now lives with his brother, who has a mild form of Down Syndrome, and is gay.

The book is well written, although there were too many four-letter words for my tastes. It takes the form of a single day, beginning with a chapter entitled 'early morning tea', and progressing through - I think - a single day. There are many flashbacks, memories and links that make it somewhat confusing.

Not that it matters. The plot weaves together well, although I didn't find the characters particularly appealing other than Laura's eccentric mother, who wasn't very believable but delightful all the same. There are some interesting issues covered - Ben works as a doctor in a clinic for people with STDs; some of the questions raised were thought-provoking, although I found rather too much sordid detail about what the job actually entailed.

It's not a long book - I read it in about three hours, on the way back to Cyprus from the UK. I don't suppose I'll read it again, but I don't regret having read it. At the back is an interview with the author, explaining more about the book.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 30th September 2009

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