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Rough Musicby Patrick Gale
Synopses & Reviews
1. How do the three quotations at the beginning of the novel relate to your understanding of the book's themes and characters? 2. The novel's alternating chapters underscore the contrast between children's and adults' perspectives on the world. In what other ways does the novel suggest that children and adults often have very different realities? 3. Most of Rough Music is set on and around the beach in Cornwall. How does the beach--the ocean itself, the shoreline, the sand-- function in the novel? 4. Memory is at the heart of this novel, both in terms of the Pagetts' recollections of their summer at Beachcomber and Frances's Alzheimer's. Do you see any connections between these two kinds of remembering? What kind of personal issues seem to be at stake in the suppression and failure of memory? 5. What role do nostalgia and homesickness play in the novel? 6. Prisons and various kinds of imprisonment are recurring themes in Rough Music . Which characters are most concerned with rules and boundaries? How do family and marriage seem to confine certain characters? 7. In what ways does language have a capacity to incriminate the novel's characters? In what ways does it help to liberate them? 8. When Julian frees Lady Percy on the beach, he says, 'Go . . . Quick. Before they can catch you again.' What exactly is he trying to accomplish by releasing his pet? How does this event reflect his changing sense of the world? 9. How would you describe the betrayals--both intentional and otherwise--that occur in Rough Music ? Do you think the novel suggests that at least some of these betrayals are inevitable? 10. Skip and Julian's new names represent an attempt to begin new lives--a reflection of Frances's hopeful 'Clean slates all round?' What do you make of this concept and of the particular name changes? 11. Julian's enrolment into the Barrowcester Choir School is somewhat mysterious. What do you imagine is behind this dramatic development? How does Julian's time at the school seem to shape him? 12. The book plays games with gender roles and with perceived norms of masculinity and femininity. How do Julian's ideas about his own sexuality and maleness develop against this background? 13. How would you characterize our expectations for the novel's female characters? How do they differ from our expectations for the male characters? 14. What does 'Rough Music,' the sculpture, signal or represent for the novel's characters and for us as readers? Do you think the ti-tle has another significance? 15. How do you feel about the novel's ending? If you were going to write an afterword, what would it contain?
Patrick Gale was born in 1962 on the Isle of Wight. He is the
Beautifully written and deeply compassionate, Rough Music is a novel of one family at two defining points in time. Seamlessly alternating between the present day and a summer thirty years past, its twin stories unfold at a cottage along the eastern coast of England.
Will Pagett receives an unexpected gift on his fortieth birthday, two weeks at a perfect beach house in Cornwall. Seeking some distance from the married man with whom he's having an affair, he invites his aging mother and father to share his holiday, knowing the sun and sea will be a welcome change for. But the cottage and the stretch of sand before it seem somehow familiar and memories of a summer long ago begin to surface.
Thirty-two years earlier. A young married couple and their eight year-old son begin two idyllic weeks at a beach house in Cornwall. But the sudden arrival of unknown American relatives has devastating consequences, turning what was to be a moment of reconciliation into an act of betrayal that will cast a lengthy shadow.
As Patrick Gale masterfully unspools these parallel stories, we see their subtle and surprising reflections in each other and discover how the forgotten dramas of childhood are reenacted throughout our lives.
Deftly navigating the terrain between humor and tragedy, Patrick Gale has written an unforgettable novel about the lies that adults tell and the small acts of treason that children can commit. Rough Music gracefully illuminates the merciful tricks of memory and the courage with which we continue to assert our belief in love and happiness.
From the Hardcover edition.
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