Così sono finalmente riuscita a finire di leggere Notes from an Exhibition, un romanzo regalatomi qualche tempo fa da un amico. Very English, un tanto ansiogeno e molto controllato. Patrick Gale non parla di emozioni, ma le suggerisce, attraverso la descrizione di un quadro a inizio capitolo; un quadro un capitolo, uno scrittore, che in alcuni passaggi si trattiene dall’emozionarsi ed estranea, singhiozza ma non piange, sorride ma di sbieco. La protagonista, Rachel Kelly, è una pittrice, è bipolare, è madre di quattro figli e figlia di un marito. C’è molto di Sylvia Plath, nella maniera in cui Gale ce la dipinge, vulnerabile e ostile, tenuo acquarello di ombre e segreti.
Rachel tenta il suicidio, s’infiamma, evapora, ammutolisce, si spreca in lacrime, muore, ma Patrick Gale non si scompone, rimane impassibile e fedele, al buon senso della ragione e alla chirurgia delle parole.

Artist Rachel Kelly’s beloved youngest son, suitably named Petroc, once gave her six stones collected from a Cornish beach, each chosen to represent a member of the family. Rachel treasures these stones and, while engaged on a groundbreaking new series of paintings possibly inspired by them, dies of a heart attack in her Cornish loft-studio.

A death is a well-worn fictional opening device, but here Patrick Gale uses it cleverly to fresh effect. Told via notes from a posthumous retrospective of Rachel’s work, which head each chapter, the narrative offers an unusual way into the half-dozen changing viewpoints that dot around in time and place, like apparently random pieces of a jigsaw. Fortunately for the reader, Gale guides us fairly confidently towards the full picture.

Rachel is bipolar, a creature alternately wonderful and terrible to her gentle Quaker husband Antony Middleton and her four children. As a young English postgraduate, Antony rescued her in Oxford when she was pregnant and suicidal. His devotion, his calm, tolerant religion and his childhood home in Penzance combined to make marriage to him her haven, and her abstract painting came to attract critical acclaim. Only after her death does Antony discover the hair-raising secrets of her upbringing
via Review: Notes From an Exhibition by Patrick Gale | Books | The Guardian.

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