The Notes of Dr. Newgate is the chronicle of a middle-aged suburban GP whose life is undergoing a series of crises. His home life is a set of estrangements from his troubled wife Imogen, his angry student son Ricky and the au pair Inez, whose continuing presence in the house he can’t quite explain. William Newgate is himself recovering from the serious condition of alcoholism.
His life is thrown into chaos by the arrival of a young patient, Serena, who is convinced he has the answers to her confused and abused life. In unsparing detail he records the development of their relationship – a dangerous and reckless liaison which will almost certainly spell the end of his career, and more, if it comes to light – as it surely will.
The Notes of Dr. Newgate is a richly comic but profound study of addiction in its myriad forms – not just drink and drugs but also the lethal lures of gambling, power, lust, even love and faith themselves.
Alan Franks’s previous fiction includes the classic newspaper comedy Boychester’s Bugle, which the novelist Tom Sharpe found “brilliantly comic.” Muswell Press has published three of his previous books: The Sins of the Sons, the award-winning Going Over and a book of poetry, Unmade Roads. Among his many plays are The Mother Tongue, which starred Prunella Scales.
He wrote for The Times for more than thirty years, covering a wide variety of arts subjects and social issues. In the 1980s he wrote a regular column for the paper, Alan Franks’s Diary, which became a book and then a Radio 4 series. He has twice been nominated for a British Press Award.
His poems have won several awards, including the Wigtown Prize, Scotland’s largest. Jo Shapcott, former president of the Poetry Society, has described his work as “intensely musical.” With the singer Patty Vetta he has recorded five albums of his own songs and given hundreds of performances at clubs and festivals throughout Britain. One of the songs, The Wishfulness Waltz, became the title track of a CD by the veteran English band Fairport Convention. The late Jake Thackray called his compositions “lovely, true, complex and addictive things.”