Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle
OPPONENTS of nuclear disarmament would do well to read Nevil
Shute's sobering, yet compelling novel, that chronicles the lives
of a select few - the very last people alive upon this Earth.
Set in Australia, a year after nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere,
and an invisible cloud of radio-active particles has all but enveloped
There, for Lieutenant Peter Holmes of the Royal Australian Navy,his
wife, Mary, and baby daughter, Jennifer, life goes on pretty much
But for Peter, the harsh reality becomes doubly clear when, as
Liaison Officer to Commander Dwight Towers of the US nuclear-powered
submarine, Scorpion, he sails to the coast of North America to
investigate a sporadic radio signal coming from the Seattle area.
Could it be that life still exists where none was thought possible?
On The Beach is a chilling tale, all the more so because
of its utter feasibility, and although it may or may not be scientifically
accurate - there is no mention of nuclear winter - the concept
is real enough.
And great story-teller that he was, Shute fully captures the
mood of the moment - be it disbelief, anger, a refusal to accept
the inevitable (Mary, for example, planting bulbs that she will
never see bloom), despair and finally, resignation.
On The Beach is an extremely good read that, dare I
say, owes more than a little to morbid curiosity. Nonetheless,
it could prove a valuable lesson for mankind.