This was recommended – a little half-heartedly – by an acquaintance of mine who is a merchant banker. It concerns a merchant banker (funny, that) who comes to question the purpose of his all-consuming work and, after a spell in a hospital in the depressed North East of England, decides to use his wealth and prestige in the City of London to bring jobs back to a poor and workless town.

I had not read a Shute novel for many years, though with A J Cronin and one or two others, he was a novelist I read a lot as a teenager.

This book has a lot to dislike for the modern reader. Lots of racism, which I suppose was normal at the time of writing; some very two dimensional ‘oriental’ characters, set in a fictional state in the Balkans; a working assumption that Britain is best, for everything; and an assortment of cheerfully simple-minded working class characters.

For all that, it rattles along. But it is a bit rubbish, really.