Inside the Whale

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Inside the Whale marks the arrival of a blazing new talent: fizzing with eclectic characters and poignant imagery, Rooney’s heartwrenching debut is a story to relish, and to recommend passionately to everyone you know.

Stevie Stanford, recently widowed, must tell her family the truth — but the past is complicated and difficult to untangle. Meanwhile Michael’s memories are squashed into a shoebox (along with Queen Mathilda’s Dickin Medal for Bravery — for pigeons) ready for his move to hospital. Michael has never been good at putting things into words; he’s more comfortable with the click of Morse code. But Anna, a young healthcare assistant, has the patience — and rare tenderness — to eke out his story. And so he begins.

Heartbreaking and life-affirming, funny and deeply moving, this is the unforgettable story of Stevie and Michael — ordinary lovers torn apart by the extraordinary events of war.



My mum was in her element during that hot September of 1939.

Over the years, she had developed a nervous streak. We became accustomed to hearing her mutter about the dangers of the motor car as she chopped onions. She fretted about untied shoelaces and ribbons on cardigan sleeves. She baulked at...
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1. What does the use of two voices for the narrative contribute to the unfolding of the story?

2. Given that the story emerges gradually from a wealth of detail, what first captures your interest and makes you want to keep reading?

3. Do you see any special significance in Michael’s explanations of the...

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“Full of wisdom and panache, Jennie Rooney’s poignant, moving, clear-eyed account of love and war, personal sacrifice and private pain, is a novel to truly move the spirit.”
— Liz Jensen 

“A work of a singularly outlandish and compassionate imagination. . . . has one shouting its praises to anybody who is within earshot.”
New Statesman

“Elegant, funny and moving . . . a wonderful, memorable musing on life, fate and love.”
Sunday Express (UK)