Gilbert Madigan is an award winning, fictitious Australian author. This is the story of his life told in a unique and compelling way. As the title indicates, it also encompasses his family. The author has structured the saga in such a way that chapters are written by Gilbert’s son Michael, and alternated with chapters by Sinclair Hughes, who has written about and researched Gilbert’s life.
In this way, the reader gains a well- rounded view of the man’s character, and also, the impact he has on his close family. He left his wife and son one morning when they were sleeping and placed a goodbye note for them to find. Marjorie has a tough time ahead of her, working to keep herself and to raise Michael. Both these family members refuse to be interviewed when Sinclair Hughes is researching and writing about their famous husband and father. Marj had left her parents back in Australia, despite their misgivings, to follow Gilbert to England.
As the story develops, we discover through sensitive and restrained prose, how Michael and his mother strive for normality in the shadow of the famous man. Always positive, his mother tells Michael she has the best part of Gilbert in her son. The relationship between parents and children is wonderfully woven throughout this saga. We see Michael as an adult, content to be a home father to his children. He loved the role and attributed his contentment to making amends for his own absent father.
In this way, we glimpse the past and future generations, and see how misery can generate forgiveness and compassion. Intertwined within the story, are the relationships between Gilbert and his son, which is strained, and Gilbert and Natalie, his daughter in law, whom he adores. The struggle for a happy life is complex, but the ultimate reward is seeing the next generation grappling with this; refining their own story. The many layers in this story are woven beautifully together for a thought provoking and satisfying read.