Monday 5 April 2010

Inside the Whale by Jennie Rooney

This is Ms Rooney's first novel. I am sincerely hoping it won't be her last and that she is only just getting started on what will be a long and illustrious career. This book is a joy to read even if you have to manage it through your tears.

It's a familiar story. A young girl and a young boy fall in love as the world around them is on the cusp of the second world war. They boy joins up when Germany attacks Great Britain and leaves the girl to discover that she is expecting his child which she proceeds to raise on her own when the boy is lost and assumed dead when he never returns from the battles in France.

But the skill and originality with which this story is told is nothing short of astonishing and is decidedly anything but familiar. The narrator alternates from the boy to the girl with each chapter. And each chapter is exquisitely short and subtle. The writing is beautiful without being indulgent. The ending is surprising and sad.

I really appreciated the journey of these character's lives and look forward to reading more of Rooney's work.

Book Group Verdict: This was one of the books for my Waterstone's book group and there was overwhelming support of this book. Not a dissenting voice among us.

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