Greenhush – Introduction to the novel

The novel can be viewed by simply clicking on the Home page which comes up by clicking on the button with lines to the left or top of the screen.

The author reserves all rights, but please feel free to help break the taboo by circulating the novel.


By Robert Thorniley-Walker


Institution of Civil Engineers NE Region Chair

A Syrian refugee, whose parents had the foresight to send her to Britain even before the start of the civil war, arrives at Oxford to study engineering. Looking for escapism in the make-belief worlds of Alice in Wonderland, Morse, Pullman and so many others, she discovers that her new apparently permanent and serene life is also an illusion. Discussion of global warming is effectively taboo, so that the looming dangers of climate change can be ignored. Escape for her is rowing, but a trip to North Yorkshire convinces her that she must act.

The serious moral, religious and scientific considerations are set within a light-hearted story, along the lines of ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, but within the sport world of bumps rowing. This is one of the first novels to address a subject that is already having a subtle impact around the world, with mass migration and extraordinary weather. It will get so much worse.

The author is a catholic and a senior civil engineer, who challenges current sceptical or fatalistic views that it is acceptable not to assess the risks associated with global warming. The story is deliberately set within the crusty backdrop of dreaming spires and Yorkshire’s ancient moorland cultures.

The plot has been written over several years and has been repeatedly overtaken by events. It is published in its current form to prevent further delays. Each month of inaction will be regretted in years to come. Chapters marked v1 have not been edited – so many apologies.

The author, who helped build the Thames Barrier to safeguard London, sees that science and engineering can no longer protect the developed world against the effects of climate change, especially as we are so set on making things so much worse than necessary.

Similarly, the predicted civil war in Syria now drags on, and much of the previously safe cosmopolitan and ancient city of Aleppo now consists of inhabited ruins. The girl from Aleppo is therefore no longer a victim of over-cautious parents, but has now become an orphan, a war refugee and almost another cliché.

I hope you find the novel interesting.

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