Is it really possible to provide care and feel detached? And what happens to your own life when it is put to the service of another? These are some of the difficult questions that Alex Allison compels us to consider. The answers are not easy. Finely written and thoughtfully devised, this is also a disquieting and unsettling read about the balance of power, cruelty and compassion in the relationship between a carer and their charge... Allison writes unobtrusively, setting up illuminating parallels and gently guiding the reader to unexpected understanding... Allison has an eye for artistic affectations, nicely lampooning Sean’s simpering art school teacher and an enthusiastic critic from Frieze magazine, but he allows Sean’s passion for art to ring true. The book reflects both on how art can represent the body and how it makes itself felt through our bodies. Visiting Tate Modern, Sean makes Janet stare so hard at a Bridget Riley painting that she grows dizzy and has to clutch his chair for support. Who is dependent on whom?
"One Booker shortlist later, Galley Beggar were proved correct. Ellmann’s novel isn’t perfect, and it may not take the prize, but in a world where Ian McEwan is still at large, something introspective and richly painted is a tonic for us all...."
— The Daily Telegraph
4.25 out of 5