~posted by Ruth
Imagine you’re 16-year-old Barry, with a large family of brothers, sisters, parents, family pets, getting ready to go back to school in the fall. Suddenly one day, your father loads you all into the car and takes you to your new home, a huge old house in need of lots of repair, in a very different part of town. Not only that, but as the economy worsens, your father becomes increasingly secretive—and seems to be driving away everyone in the family in his pursuit of. . .what?
Noah’s Castle is a mystery, a thriller, and a realistic warning all at the same time. At the heart of the story is Barry’s tension between his father’s isolationist hoarding of goods and the needs of others in the wider population as the fabric of society breaks down when the British economy fails.
I was amazed to read that the first edition of this re-issued novel came out in 1975. The societal warnings are very timely, and the plot is still intriguing: as money becomes increasingly worthless, “hoarding” becomes a crime, and Barry has to wrestle with moral decisions around protecting his father, or other members of his family and society at large.
I loved reading the afterword by the author, who writes of his own process of imagining a moral dilemma, and writing his way to an understanding of it. It’s also intriguing to learn that historical precedents for the tale, including true stories of the runaway inflation and deterioration of society experienced during Germany in the 1920’s.
This “young adult novel” appeals to older adults as well. I had a hard time putting it down. I imagine it sparking rich conversations over family dynamics, the individual versus the greater good, and the impact of government economic decisions. A great read!