Mrs Mason turns to Orwell for her island choice

Mrs Mason turns to Orwell for her island choice

3 March 2021

In the last in our series of Desert Island Valley, Mrs Mason, who combines her role as Upper Sixth Housemistress with teaching French and Spanish as well as supporting students with their overseas university applications, has chosen George Orwell.

While we have all been on our own personal deserted islands during this last period of remote teaching and learning in our #VirtualValley, we hope you have enjoyed hearing more about the books staff would take to their desert island and you have been inspired to think about what you would choose.

"Whilst it is entirely impossible to pick my favourite book as there are so many and I am constantly adding to the list, one book I return to again and again is 'Down and Out in Paris and London' by George Orwell. It is an autobiographical work and was published in 1933. It is written in the first person, in two halves. The first half details the time when Orwell lived in near destitution in Paris taking intermittent casual work in restaurants to survive and the second when Orwell lived as a tramp in London. The overriding theme of the book is poverty and Orwell aimed to educate the wealthy middle and upper classes about the abject poverty which existed in two such prosperous cities in the twentieth century. Whilst it absolutely stands up as a serious social commentary it is also beautifully written in classic Orwell style and feels like a much more modern piece. There is pathos and humour, such as when Orwell and his room mate have to share a pair of work trousers as they cannot afford a pair each, as one works days and the other nights this is the solution. There is both tragedy and comedy at the same time. I must have read this book five or six times and I always take something different from it. Worryingly, it still has a relevance in modern London and Paris. I urge you to take a look, it is not a hefty tome and is well worth the effort."