Not Forgetting the Whale, by John Ironmonger

Publisher: W & N | Publication date: 12th February 2015 | Edition: Hardback (own copy)

Firstly, a taster of the sort of comment you will enjoy between the pages…

…they went to bed perfectly healthy and woke up dead…

Not Forgetting the Whale cover

Not Forgetting the Whale – gorgeous artwork, excellent writing.

Not Forgetting the Whale is the third John Ironmonger book I have read. As the bar had already been set high with the others (The Coincidence Authority & The Notable Brain of Maximillian Ponder) each deserving 5 stars, this had a lot to live up to.

From the moment I started reading I knew this would not disappoint. There’s a real talent to capturing the elements of human nature to perfection and creating what I can only describe as a modern day fable of sorts, and this writer has oodles of it.

In this story Joe Haak is an analyst in the city. He developed a computer program that could ‘predict’ the effects of global events on the stock market. However, when the machine predicted other events that could affect human civilisation as we know it, with a little help from a whale the analyst finds himself in the Cornish village of St Piran (or rather the villagers discover Joe washed up on the beach in just his birthday suit, much to their surprise!).

In their own unique ways, the villagers welcome this odd visitor from the city until he slowly becomes part of their close-knit community.

After a global pandemic breaks out, various trials come along to test St Piran’s resolve and Joe has to face the reality of the machine’s prediction – will people rally together, or will everyone have to fend for themselves? More importantly, how will Joe fair in these trying times and can he fulfil a promise he made years earlier?

The whale on the cover of this enchanting book makes significant appearances throughout the story, alongside John Ironmonger’s unique humour and dialogue that once again weaves its magical thread throughout.

This is a wonderful book that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys a heart-warming tale, where you can discover the often hidden traits of ordinary people without anyone wagging a finger in your face from the moral high-ground.

I LOVE this writer’s work.

Rating: Superb.  5/5

You can follow the author on Twitter @jwironmonger


The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder, by John Ironmonger

Publisher: W & N | Publication date: 3rd January 2013 | Edition: Paperback (own copy)

Maximilian Ponder is lying face up, dead, on the dining table in his own front room…

The Notable Brain of Maximillian Ponder.jpg

A thoroughly quirky and original read.

A thoroughly unusual tale about a man who chose to lock himself away in an attempt to record the existing contents of his brain for future scientific analysis.

It’s an especially clever and heart-warming book. I really can’t explain to you HOW the writer made this story work, it just does – and I loved it!

To briefly give you an idea of the story, during a project that was supposed to last just three years, the young Maximillian Ponder has decided to isolate himself from the outside world to recall and write down every memory he’s had, every person he’s met, food he’s eaten, places he’s visited, conversations he recalls – well, you get the idea!

Don’t be fooled that this is some boring, straightforward run-of-the-mill diary – Maximillian Ponder’s random ‘ponderings’ are anything but boring.

It’s an outpour of everything the man has ever experienced, or to be precise, what he remembers. Travelling through the pages of the book with Max and his good friend, Adam Last, you sense his past, present and future. The timeline flits back and forth to allow the story to be told by both Max, via his journal, and Adam, who’s telling the story. Yet there’s an odd order to it all. The writer really knows how to draw you into this ‘pondering’ world he’s created.

I’m not going to say anymore about the plot, as the whole experience will be YOU reading Max’s ramblings. It’s funny, even though it’s heart breaking in places, and it’s thought provoking without losing its ‘entertainment value’. Some upsetting moments are tackled by John Ironmonger’s brilliantly quirky writing style. For this reason alone he’s quickly becoming a favourite author of mine (see The Coincidence Authority, also fabulous)

Well then, if you like something different without it being totally bizarre then try this. I’m very glad I did.

Rating: 5/5

You can follow the author on Twitter: @jwironmonger

The Coincidence Authority, by John Ironmonger

Publisher: W & N | Publication date: 4th September 2014 | Edition: Paperback (own copy)

Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action’.  Ian Flemming, Goldfinger

Co incidence Authority

I’m loving this cover!

Can coincidences always be explained, or does everything happen for a reason?

This book entertains that very notion, and the storytelling is so perfect I have no choice but to offer five stars.

I do like a ‘different’ read and this book didn’t disappoint. It flicks backwards and forwards through various points in time, but this is handled well and it’s really easy to follow. I must admit, it’s quite the contender for one of my favourite books of 2014.

It’s not your average, run-of-the-mill book. There’s hidden qualities I couldn’t begin to even try and explain here. It’s fresh, the dialogue has been expertly written and the ending is simply the icing on an already addictive cake.

In brief, it follows the rather unfortunate life of a young girl with the memorable name of Azalea. Her mother, it seems, had abandoned her at a fairground in Devon when she’s just a child, which was awful enough, but she becomes separated from her adopted parents in Africa when she’s just thirteen following a raid at their orphanage / mission…it soon becomes apparent to her that the date of the 21st June is one which she finds herself questioning, as various misfortunes just keep on presenting themselves. So, she decides to investigate this further when she realises what affect this could have on her life, or indeed death…

And no, it’s not all about ramming statistics and mathematical probabilities (or even theology) down your neck, although it does get you thinking. Everything is very cleverly woven into a forever-moving story and is incredibly interesting. Mostly, everything is plausible.

If you’re just a little intrigued, there’s a website that’s been set up to “accompany” the book at:

And that’s a nice touch to discover after you’ve finished reading. Quite brilliant.

Rating: 5/5

You can follow this author on Twitter: @jwironmonger