I have had Inside The Whale on my shelves for a while now - it even travelled over to the UK and France with us on our trip last year - but I had not yet got around to reading it. I ended up lending it to my best friend who read it quickly and said that I had to read it - soon! I took her advice and actually finished the book today in virtually one sitting - it is a beautiful, and a beautifully told, novel.
The novel is told from the alternate perspectives of the two main characters, Stevie (Stephanie) and Michael as they meet just prior to the start of WW2 and then as their lives progress through the war years and into adulthood and old age. The author plays with the narrative - moving backwards and forwards in time so that we actually "meet" Michael for the first time as an elderly man in a hospital bed whereas Stevie starts telling her story as an adolescent on the day that war is declared in 1939. This technique works perfectly for this story - a linear progression would not have been as effective - the story is not that simple. Each character has a clear and distinctive voice and story - they both fill the reader in on their childhood's and their histories - the decisions and actions taken both by themselves and others that have led them to each separate stage in their stories. The reader can see both Stevie and Michael as individuals and then there is a third character - their relationship which develops genuinely.
I loved this book - it has left me feeling and wanting more and yet at the same time it was just right - perfectly satisfying, sad and honest.