The First Meeting of 2012

The book for discussion at this meeting: Neville Shute, On the Beach.

As Phillip had rightly pointed out by email before his departure for the USofA Neville Shute was the pen name of Neville Shute Norway, also a prominent and successful aero engineer, and the author of many books during the 1950’s and 60’s. Most included an aviation theme and were set in Australia where he emigrated in 1950. Phillip added that he was a big fan, but felt his work had dated.

At the meeting, the discussion centred around his writing style, being compared to Enid Blyton a comparison the group felt as very apt, and his story very much based on middle class views of the 1950s. Comfortable writing, not great literature but an easy style, very much of its generation.

Those ‘in the know’ highlighted that nuclear Armageddon was the fear that many grew up with during that time – very different to today. It was real to people at the time, during the Cold War and therefore easy to relate to.

Most felt the timeline in the book seemed odd as they were in denial and had no sense of panic or urgency. It took some time to get there, rather than the minutes that was the real expectation at the time. The book portrayed people in a way we would all like to think was how it might happen, that they had some level of decorum. Obviously to make the book and the story this was required rather than being whole hearted aligned to human nature.

Next months book: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulkes.


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