The House of Light by Julia Green
You can almost smell the salt and feel the wind: a celebration of the great outdoors – The Daily Mail
I wonder whether any Daily Mail readers actually reading this book were disapointed that they didn’t end up with some kind of follow-up to ‘Swallows and Amazons’. Or perhaps they DID get this follow-up, albeit one set in a subtle dystopian future built upon the politics espoused by… The Daily Mail.
Oh, the irony.
After all, there are strong shades of Brexit here – with the principal villains of the piece being the border guards, on the hunt for Ish who has washed up on the shores illegally. Of course, this is just my take on things – a commentary on the ongoing arguments that Brixitannia can’t be a bad place at all. If it were, then refugees and immigrants wouldn’t want to come here.
There are also hints of the hostility toward climate-change school protests (the main character is continually hounded for not being present in school). It’s at this point that (for me), a few months have turned The House of Light from ‘a cutting commentary on the politics and ethics of Brexit, isolationism and xenophobia’ to ‘damn. This is disturbingly uncanny.’, because this dystopia is also apparently one where medicine has failed and antibiotic-resistant illness is rampant.
However, this is not a tale about a character being ground down by dystopia, it’s about a character who sidesteps and escapes from this cage of agression, anxiety and lack of imagination out into the natural world. Its a story of courage vs adversity and – also uncannily appropriate in these Extraordinary Times(™) – about a reconnection with nature and the wider world that has been otherwise denied to us.
So – is The House of Light a perfect lockdown book? I think it is – and it’s also a perfect post-lockdown book. What other books do you feel could accompany it?