Noah's Castle by John Rowe Townsend
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Written by award-winning author John Rowe Townsend, Noah's Castle tells the story of a family trying to survive during a total collapse of the British economy. Money is worthless, unemployment skyrockets, and food and other goods become scarce.
As conditions worsen and people begin to starve, how do people react? When does law-and-order break down and civilized behavior end? How do people balance the needs of their family against those of society? Noah's Castle examines these questions but doesn't provide easy answers, resulting in a unique and thought-provoking story of survival. (Goodreads summary)
This book was originally published in 1975, went out of print, then was brought back and republished by October Mist. I think it's important to keep that in mind while reading, as while most of the book stands the test of time, there are parts which are a little dated. Most glaringly, the father's attitude towards his wife and daughters. Yes, he's a bit sexist, but so were a lot of men during that time period. Just look back to the television commercials in the 70s for proof. I've seen a few reviewers not be able to get past the father's attitude, so think it's important to keep things in context.
That being said, I thought that this was a good read overall. It's as relevant now as it was back then, because I think we're all only a few steps away from having our whole world come crashing down. This boils down to a father trying to take care of his family and prepare for a coming crisis. Should he have consulted his wife before buying a new house and bringing in supplies? I think so. But he seems to be the sort of man who considers himself the king of his castle, and thinks it's his job to take care of his family. Could he have handled things better? Absolutely. But in the end, I think he did what he thought was best in order to take care of his family.
One of the things I found most interesting about this story was how normal society started to break down in the midst of a crisis. We like to pretend we're civilized, but when threatened, people start to show their true colors. I liked the characters of Cliff and Stuart, who still wanted to do what was right and take care of their fellow man. Very noble. Would I be that noble? I'd like to think so, but I might wind up like Barry's dad and want to take care of my own first.
Gave this book a 3/5 rating as I liked it. I think a 3/5 is a good rating and worth reading, so please give this one a chance! Was well written, though a little dated in spots. Made me think but I didn't find it overly preachy, which is always good. I didn't really like the main characters, and was more sympathetic to secondary characters like Cliff, Stuart, and Terry. Had mixed feelings about Barry, the narrator. He was a teenager with ideals, which is not a bad thing, just not the best thing during a crisis. His heart was in the right place, but I don't think he handled things as well as he should have. None of the characters did. That's one of the things that made this story interesting.