Saturday, April 30, 2011

28. Breaking In - Breaking Out

By Nicholas Monsarrat
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library

This 2 volume autobiography of Nicholas Monsarrat was published as one book titled Breaking In - Breaking Out in 1970.   I find Monsarrat's writing style very entertaining and his life, while kind of sad overall, still fascinating.  I always wonder what it is about someone's life that makes them turn into a very good writer.  Wistfulness on my part I imagine.

I've read most of what Monsarrat has written and consider this his best work. It is the story of his life, told in glimpses with 5-year intervals and gives the most vivid portrait of the pre-war era (social customs, education, family life and general way of thinking) that I have ever read.  

Monsarrat seems to hold nothing back and gives what effectively amounts to the story of his life, wonderfully condensed. Reading it feels like being inside his head, but he never goes too far. If you are at all interested in the pre-war era, Monsarrat as a person or how other people live and think you want to read this. I knew Monsarrat was a good writer, but the quality of this book still shocked me.


Nicholas Monsarrat was a noted English novelist, best known for THE CRUEL SEA. BREAKING IN, BREAKING OUT is an engaging and candid autobiography in which we follow Monsarrat to Cambridge, the Royal Navy, South Africa and Canada. We learn much about him, much more about the world through which he traveled. Monsarrat resists sentimentality while clearly expressing his hopes and frustrations as a writer and man.
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