Jenny Rooney’s debut novel is a revelation. Finally a well written and thoroughly entertaining novel written by an English lawyer that does not revolve around law, crime or a dodgy solicitor. Instead the story deals with that other, seemingly insurmountable challenge, what makes love?

In 1939 Stephanie and Michael fall head over heels in love with one another. A love destined to last for forever. But then War comes and Michael joins the Royal Signals goes, off to fight for his country and refuses to return as a result of an incident in the trenches in war torn Africa. Kenya has an unforeseen effect which will change their lives and destinies.  The novel in many ways follows

Michael is in hospital and can no longer speak and so must communicate with a pad attached with a cord beside his bed. Stevie is mourning the death of her husband. We learn that they were once lovers and that the events of the war have kept them apart. They are ordinary people who, like many others, have regrets and now look on the world differently from when they were young. It was quite a sad story, because you hear both sides (alternate chapters were written in the voice of the two key characters) you see all the pitfalls coming and wish it could be different for the two of them. It's this wishing that shows what a good book it is.

Think Love in the Time of Cholera meets 84 Charing Cross Road and you will not be too disappointed.

age old problemconcernstwo lovers looking back on their relationship, their lives apart and the decisions which we make and how

Five stars

Inside the Whale by Jennie Rooney is published by Chatto and Windus and is available at all good bookshops for £12.99 ISBN 978-0-701-18273-1