Books

Lord Jim at Home by Dinah Brooke review – a perfectly timed comeback

On his return from war, Giles Trenchard commits an act so shocking that it changes everything

Lord Jim at home book cover

When Dinah Brooke’s Lord Jim At Home was first published in 1973, it wasn’t heralded for the great work of fiction that it is. Instead of laughing at the horrors that ensue and the portrayal of a damaged individual, a defensive theme emerged in the critiques, that its depiction of England’s aristocracy was too paradoxical. Today in a world where eating the rich has become a common cultural theme that especially in the last year has been well gorged on, it is the perfect time for Lord Jim At Home to make a comeback. 

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

The novel follows Giles Trenchard through his entire life. We see through his eyes as a baby confronted with a hostile home environment, the comradery and violence that he experiences in the navy, and his unceremonious return to life in post-war Britain. 

It is a book filled with vile imagery and the revolting bodies that we now associate with Ottessa Moshfegh. However, it was Dinah Brooke’s body horror depictions that once inspired Moshfegh, as is clear by her insightful foreword. Lord Jim At Home is full of pain and grotesquery, most of which
doesn’t come from Giles’s misadventures overseas. Giles, like many of his privilege, tumbles upwards through life, being constantly offered new opportunities many would hope for, despite squandering everyone around him. 

I was carried along for a miserable, raucous ride, with pileups accruing on the side of the road as Dinah Brooke refuses to take her foot off the pedal. It’s a novel akin to narrative whiplash, that seeks to disorientate with the horrors which never relent. 

Billie Walker is a freelance journalist.

Lord Jim at home cover

Lord Jim At Home by Dinah Brooke is out now (Daunt Books, £9.99). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member.

You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
The Eyes Are The Best Part by Monika Kim review – tension-filled horror debut delivers
Books

The Eyes Are The Best Part by Monika Kim review – tension-filled horror debut delivers

Children's author Malorie Blackman: 'As a teenager I had never read any books by Black authors'
Malorie Blackman speaking at the Merky Books Literature Festival in 2023
Letter to my younger self

Children's author Malorie Blackman: 'As a teenager I had never read any books by Black authors'

Scotland's national poet Kathleen Jamie on why book festivals are wrong target for climate activism
Books

Scotland's national poet Kathleen Jamie on why book festivals are wrong target for climate activism

Top 5 books by Latin American writers, chosen by poet and author Richard Gwyn
Books

Top 5 books by Latin American writers, chosen by poet and author Richard Gwyn

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

The Big Issue

Sign up to get your FREE Doctor Who Archive Special

Celebrate the 14th series with your FREE edition of the Dr Who Special Archives