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Not Forgetting the Whale
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Not Forgetting the Whale

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,287 ratings  ·  239 reviews
When a young man washes up, naked, on the sands of St Piran, he is quickly rescued by the villagers. From the retired village doctor and the schoolteacher, to the beachcomber and the owner of the local bar, the priest's wife and the romantic novelist, they take this lost soul into their midst. But what the villagers don't know is that Joe Haak worked as an analyst and has ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 12th 2015 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,287 ratings  ·  239 reviews

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Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4000-books
Another book read for a challenge ( had to have a whale on the cover!) that turned out to be an absolute charmer and an excellent introduction to a new to me author. I had not heard of John Ironmonger but fortunately my library had and thus another new relationship begins!

Not Forgetting the Whale is set in Cornwall, England which is always a plus for me. The tiny fishing village of St.Piran is perfectly described. The book is full of intriguing characters, especially Joe Haak the MC, who has fle
Diane Barnes
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't know that I've ever read a book that made me think the way this one did. Not just about modern things like supply chains and economic dependency between countries, stress in the modern world, how easily things can go wrong, the three letter words that make the world a dangerous place (oil, war and flu); you know, all those things we hear about on a daily basis if we watch the news.
But also, what happened to Easter Island, and why. The theory of the wisdom of crowds. The turkey who thinks
Betsy Robinson
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Betsy by: Antoinette
I was swept away by this book in the beginning, resented anything that got in the way of my reading, and later, as the story slowed, settled in for an interesting debate about human nature and what we’ll do to survive.

Dependencies, supply chains, connections between everything, and how things happen according to streams of supply and need, as well as the possible end of civilization as we know it due to our human self-interest vs. an optimistically imagined natural impulse for generosity and sac
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
5 Huge Unforgettable Stars!!

“So memory is all we have, fragile though this may be,”

This book has a bit of everything in a very good way- it is about community and the people in that community; it is a dystopian novel about the possibility of the end of the world; it’s a Christmas story.. Wow, it’ s really a perfectly unforgettable story, and yes, there is a whale in this book!

The author writes with a simple honesty and a true understanding of human nature. How have I never heard of him? This wa
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If I could give it 6 stars I would. This novel is at times deeply moving, funny, witty and always clever. The characters are written so perfectly I wanted to be immersed in their world all the time. It is ages since I've had a 'can't put it down' novel until this one. The story of Joe, who is so talented on the share trading floor, who invents a computer programme which will predict the rise and fall of the market and who sees collapse coming and runs away. He is found, washed up on the beach of ...more
Liz Fenwick
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was sent a proof of this book and couldn't resist reading as much of it is set in Cornwall - that magical place that I am lucky enough to sometimes experience. I just finished this book and I loved it. It was an effortless read and a challenging read. It touched reality, it touched the mythical and spoke to the heart. Bloody brilliant.
St Piran is a sleepy hamlet in the corner of Cornwall with only 300 people and is the type of place where everyone knows everybody else. So there’s a lot of excitement when a naked man is found washed upon the beach and saved, and the next day a fin whale is beached causing the village to work together to save her. Joe, the man from the beach, instantly becomes part of the village but soon talks about a machine he built that predicts the future and that the end of the world is talking. Joe is de ...more
I feel like such a cynic for not enjoying this, but I just could not stomach the cheese, especially towards the end. Bah-humbug. Plus, Joe, the protagonist, was such an irritating Nice Guy™ (or "failed Romantic", as Ironmonger put it), hero-boy. Ugh. This was the right time of year to attempt this book, but I guess I wasn't the right kind of reader...
Colleen Fauchelle
This is the book I chose for book club. We score out of 10 so this is a 7 for me. I will do a review soon.
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Not Forgetting the Whale is the third John Ironmonger book I have read. As the bar had already been set high with the others each deserving 5 stars, this had a lot to live up to.

From the moment I started reading I knew this would not disappoint. There’s a real talent to capturing the elements of human nature to perfection and creating what I can only describe as a modern day fable of sorts, and this writer has oodles of it.

In this story Joe Haak is an analyst in the city. He developed a compute
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps my first 5-star book. Haven't enjoyed a book as much for several years. It manages to tread a perfect line across page-turning adventure, social commentary, soap opera, and an intelligent feel-good celebration of humanity.

Thoroughly recommended.
You know all those dystopian books about how hopelessly screwed we are because humans are selfish, dumb and weak? This isn’t one of them. This is a hopeful book and it acted like a wonderfully soothing balm on this old punk’s frayed, fatalist nerves. Sure, it’s about what would happen if the world you took for granted suddenly collapsed. But it’s also about the idea that bad circumstances can bring out the best out of people if you give them a chance.

This is a fable about a small, sleepy Cornish
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Back in 2013 I discovered a book that left a profound impression on me, but that very few of my book-appreciating friends seemed to notice. That book was The Coincidence Authority - you can see my review here on Goodreads. So I was really quite excited when I saw that John Ironmonger had a new book on the way - Not Forgetting The Whale is published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson on 12th February in hardback and for kindle - and even more delighted when I managed to get my hands on a pre-release e-co ...more
Julie James
Quirky mix of a quaint village novel and a curiously optimistic apocalypse type event. Loved it.
Joe is a fantastic character, who along with the rest of the villagers in St Piran's, will restore your faith in humanity. Joe has ended up in this small part of Cornwall as he ran from his stressful job in a city investment bank when everything went wrong. The locals take him in and help him recover physically and mentally, but it's when a whale beaches itself and needs rescuing that Joe really starts to win the villagers over. This novel is a lovely examination of what is really important in l ...more
Kathe Coleman
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not Forgetting the Whale by John Ironmonger
Joe was found naked fifty years ago on a sandy beach in a small town near Cornwall. The story has been passed down from generation to generation with slight modifications and some exaggerating. Coincidentally a fin whale wasalso spotted at the same time. St. Piran, a small town of just over three-hundred people, were naïve in their ways and for this seemed a was a bonified omen. Joe was an analyst at a bank in London where using his enhanced technical s
Amber Strong
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book surprised me, it was funny and serious and heartwarming in turns. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5) Awfully cheery for a book about the supposed end of the world. Ironmonger cleverly adapts the story of Jonah with his tale of Joe (short for Jonas) Haak, a London financial analyst who takes the fall for a bank crash by escaping to a small village in Cornwall. When he washes up on the beach at St. Piran, naked and in an – ahem – priapic state, the villagers take him to their heart. The near-simultaneous sighting of a fin whale only adds to his mystique. As a catastrophic flu sweeps the nat ...more
Guille-Allès Library
Not Forgetting the Whale is a darkly funny, brilliantly original novel, taking the familiar end-of-the-world premise and giving it a fresh spin.

There’s a genuinely chilling message here about the threat of oil shocks and flu pandemics and how our society is much more fragile than we think it is – by the time you finish reading there might be a few more tins of beans in your cupboard than there were when you started. Yet somehow it never feels depressing, thanks to Ironmonger’s cheerful, underst
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I so enjoyed this book, what a wonderful thoughtfully put together story. The way the narration moved between instances and times wasn't complex, though it could've easily been, and it allowed for a much deeper relation to Joe Haaks. It was a lovely insight into how we perceive those around us, and human communities, and I kept having to remind myself we've not actually experienced this moment. Definitely a recommended read if you want a gentle story with a lot of human experience.
Fran Hawkes
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, possibly because I just read something shit and it was wonderful to read a book by a craftsman. Joe Haak is washed up, naked, on a beach by a small village in Cornwall. Joe is an analyst in the city and he predicts a global disaster. A fascinating view on human nature in a crisis and a compelling story with real characters.
I read the authors book The Coincidence Authority a couple of years back and found it to be completely different from the story I was expecting. So with this one, I was expecting a deeper meaning than the blurb on the back jacket hints.

It wasn't a disappointment, Joe Haak is found washed up on a beach in a tiny Cornish village. Over the first half of the book we learn why he, a City analyst at a bank has found his way so far from home. He meets the 300ish locals, makes friends and bonds with the
G.L. Sheridan
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most heartwarming books I've ever read. John Ironmonger has a way of writing that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. You get a sense of kindness from him and a feeling that humanity may not be as bad as we think. I've read one of his other books - The Coincidence Authority - and that too was excellent. This is an author I will be looking out for in future.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A tale about a tiny village forgotten by the world. A tiny village that starts to be the world for a city boy.

This book has not been exactly what I expected - the German name "The whale and the end of the world" gives away a bit more about the plot. In the end I liked the surprise about this "additional" story a lot though.

It's been a very enjoyable & heartwarming read
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book started as with a very unique story. Overall, the book is very different from other books. I didn't quiet enjoy the romantic aspect, there was no chemistry between the characters. but the rest was okay.
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Considering all the good reviews for this book, it probably just isn’t my cup of tea. It has a decent story that makes sense and includes likable characters, but I couldn’t bring myself to be excited about anything happening in this book. For me, it is plain okay. 🤷🏼♂ ...more
Oct 18, 2018 added it
Ended up skim reading this although the idea was good.
Adult level, teens would be bored.
Kate Creed
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A throughly enjoyable read, I wasn't too sure I wanted to read about bankers, but it only sets the background scene with that initially ,then quickly moves on. Made a pleasant change to read an uplifting apocalyptic novel, give it a whirl and don't despair at the opening banker chapter.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book to give you lots to think about. Will probably re-read in a year or two.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful story. Not what I was expecting at first but it was a pleasant surprise. The plot was interesting and certainly held poignancy and relevance to the situation in the world at the moment. Restores faith in humanity but also makes you aware of how small man kind is in some ways.
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I'm the author of 'Not Forgetting the Whale', 'The Coincidence Authority,' ('Coincidence' in the USA), and 'The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder.' Here are some things about me:
1) I'm a Cornishman who was born in Kenya, schooled in Kent, studied in Nottingham and Liverpool, and worked in Nigeria, Slough, Manchester, Edinburgh, Warrington, Warwick and Glasgow. Now I live in Parkgate on the Wirral
“If this was death, then death was like switching off the lights in a big house; first the farthest rooms, then the dining room and the kitchen and the landing, and then the living room, and then, with the house almost in darkness, there’s time for a last look around, a farewell moment, perhaps, to see if everything is in order; and then the final switch in the hallway. Death,” 1 likes
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