- Paperback: 261 pages
- Genre: Fiction
- Publisher: Chatto and Windus 2008
- Source: Gift from another Bookcrosser
- Review Quote: "Fresh, funny and wise, balancing emotional turmoil with a vivid turn of phrase. Hugely enjoyable’
‘Inside the Whale’ is Jennie Rooney’s first novel and although I read it in just three sessions it was more because it was quick to read with large print and not very long rather than particularly riveting. In fact it took me a little while to decide if I was actually enjoying it as at first it was confusing trying to keep track of the story. When it did all click into place, which it did all rather too conveniently, I had already worked out what was going to happen. So unlikely but as I have often said before fiction is entertainment and the story provides that even if it is rather simplistic.
Narrated in the first person alternately by the two main protagonists Stevie Stanford and Michael the man she met in 1937. In the summer of 1939 her lover joins the Royal Signals and is sent to fight in WWII in Africa. Set in modern times they are now both elderly and telling their stories of London and Africa during the second world war to the reader, completely unaware of each others existence. Stevie is recently widowed, staying with her daughter and granddaughter, whilst she struggles to mourn for her husband. Michael is dying of cancer in hospital and having already lost the power of speech is trying to convey his life story by writing it down for a caring nursing assistant. The ending is moving and well written even if unlikely, although maybe not, one never knows!
A romantic novel written with humour and poignancy about a wartime love affair and the long term effects of such a relationship.
Jennie Rooney was born in 1980 and grew up in Liverpool, Zambia and Bromley. She attended Newstead Wood School in Orpington, before reading History at Cambridge University. She taught English for a while in a primary school in France before training as a solicitor in London and Paris. Her first novel, Inside the Whale, was written during this time and was published by Chatto & Windus in 2008, and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, the Waterstones New Writer of the Year Award, and was a Richard and Judy Debut Book Club choice. Her second novel, The Opposite of Falling, is also published by Chatto & Windus.
She now lives in West London, where she writes and teaches History and English. She is also a regular creative writing tutor for Skyros Writers' Lab and is a patron of the National Academy of Writing. She is currently working on her third novel and a screenplay.
Biographical Information and author photo is courtesy of Jennie Rooney - Official Website.
Jennie Rooney’s second novel was published last year.