I recently read Nice Work by David Lodge. It’s a book set in Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s, and it sees the relationship between two completely different people – Dr Robyn Penrose, an English lecture at the University of Rummidge (a fictional university in around the same place as Birmingham) and Vic Wilcox, a high up factory boss.
I think this book says a lot about the context of the time. You definitely sense that constant panic and uneasiness, with the lack of job security and the recession crippled society. I also think it also says a lot about people. Compared to Robyn, Vic is quite a relatable character. Robyn seems like the sort of character purely constructed to highlight the author’s point, Lodge’s point being how she is forced to sell out her own values in order to keep the dominant social order. But overall it was a pretty good book.
However, it wasn’t until I talked about Nice Work with other people and got their perspectives on it, that it really opened up for me what I liked and disliked about the book, as well as several other points which I hadn’t previously thought about.
I think it’s easy to underestimate the value of talking about books. Sure, you get a lot from simply reading books. But books should be talked about. They should be analysed. After all, most books have some sort of comment on society, whether deliberate or not.
So today, I want to open the forum to you. What have you been reading? What did you like/dislike about it? What do you think it says about society, or even just what did you gain from it?