While the Storm Rages

Written by Phil Earle
Review by Rebecca Butler

It is a few days before the outbreak of World War II. Noah Price makes a promise to his father before his Dad enlists. He will look after their beloved dog Wyn, whatever it takes.

Noah then finds out about a government plan to have all pet animals slaughtered, as part of the war effort. Noah regards this government plan as nothing short of criminal. He is devastated by it. His mother sends Noah off to the vet queue to have his dog put down. But Noah devises other plans. He meets his best friend Clementine, who is accompanying her own dog Frank to the vet. They also meet Big Col, who is the school bully. Col is accompanied by his friend, a pet snake.

Noah tells his friends that he is going to commandeer his father’s boat, the Queen Maudie. He will allow as many of his friends as may be to load their pets on to the boat. The animals will then be safely conducted to Battersea Dogs Home, where he hopes they will be safe. Thus begins a perilous adventure. Will Noah manage to save Wyn and the other animals? And if so, at what cost?

Earle’s novel has beloved animals at its heart, and the suffering of their human owners when the lives of the creatures are threatened. The basic storyline is of course somewhat improbable. But the narrative must be strong enough to overcome such practical limitations. In the end even a sceptical reader will be persuaded to celebrate the powerful relationships formed between humans, and between humans and animals. It is a feat of literary ingenuity on the part of the author to have discovered a leaflet describing this wartime expedient and to have fabricated the novel on its basis.