“Island” by Aldous Huxley (U.K.)

One of Nicola’s 100 best books for inspiration in the 21st century!

Synopsis and Review

“Island”: pregnant with novel ideas!

For over a hundred years the Pacific island of Pala has been the scene of a unique experiment in civilisation. Its inhabitants live in a society where western science has been brought together with eastern philosophy to create a paradise on earth. When cynical journalist Will Farnaby arrives to search for information about potential oil reserves on Pala, he quickly falls in love with the way of life on the island. Soon the need to complete his mission becomes an intolerable burden.

There were mixed reactions to the book from the members of the Book Club. Some liked the many ideas that Huxley has the story carry, others found the book overloaded with them. Some thought the story positive, others found it negative, especially the ending. One reader even found it positive on the individual’s level (enlightenment), but negative on society’s level (utopia). A long discussion on all the ideas ensued, with one reader pointing out that Huxley touched on many issues which had been studied in the 1950s around the themes of education, human development, genetics, etc. Readers liked many of the ideas Huxley describes in this ideal society. When thinking about them in the context of their own lives, some felt that they seemed too good to be true and just couldn’t work today. Readers found that the novel starts with an interesting plot, but then flounders because of an excess of discourse. They found that all the characters sounded the same and that if there had been more character development, the story would have carried better. Since the novel made readers think about important issues, they gave it an overall rating of 8 out of 10.

Nicola’s Book Club reading list

Season 3 (Feb – Jun 2006)

“Pilgrim” by Timothy Findley (Canada) *
“Mr Potter” by Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua)
“Island” by Aldous Huxley (U.K.)
“Broken Verses” by Kamila Shamsie (Pakistan)
“Distant Palaces” by Abilio Estevez (Cuba)

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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