I miss University. I miss it a lot. People always think I’m crazy when I say how much I miss being in school and doing assignments, but I do! I miss getting our new book lists at the start of each semester, tearing apart novels and poems in lectures and seminars, learning new things about authors that I never knew before, and writing outrageous essay topics.
Yes. I know. I’m a nerd. But luckily I’m not alone! Two of my friends from university were feeling the same way, so in order to alleviate our post-university blues, we decided to start our own book club! First up on our list was Not Forgetting the Whale by John Ironmonger! A little known book, it ended up being the perfect book club pick! Full of symbolism, intriguing characters, and a pretty in depth look at human nature, our discussion lasted a solid hour and a half before we finally ran out of things to say.
The story focuses on St. Piran, a small village in Cornwall far from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities. When a young man named Joe washes up naked on the beach one morning, he is quickly rescued by the villagers and accepted with open arms. What the villagers don’t know, however, is that Joe is an analyst from London who has designed a computer program named ‘Cassie’ that can predict the future. And the future doesn’t look good.
With a potential worldwide crisis of extreme magnitude on the horizon, Joe settles into St. Piran where he begins stockpiling goods to hopefully survive the collapse to come. But is his prediction right? And should he tell his new friends what might be happening? You’ll have to read the story to find out!
Without a doubt the biggest chunk of our book club discussion centered on the concept of human nature. If the world was going to potentially collapse, would we help those around us, or would we only care about our own survival? Is human nature intrinsically good or bad? There were also several interesting parallels between Joe and religious figures (like St. Piran and Jonah and the Whale) which made for some interesting discussion. We all agreed that we liked Joe when we first read the story, but the more we dissected the book the less pleasant we found him.
Overall, Not Forgetting the Whale was a great book, and the three of us all really enjoyed it! The focus on a small community gave the story charm, and we were all very curious to see what direction the book would take in the end. I would definitely recommend Not Forgetting the Whale to read for pleasure, or for your next book club pick!
The Bottom Line: An enjoyable and charming story that will have you contemplating the complexities of human nature.
Rating: 4.5 Stars