No Sky (1934)

Synopsis: George Ordyne is forced to abandon his medical studies when his father dies and the money to pay for his education dries up. He lands a job in the rate-setting department of a large engineering firm. The work soon gets him down and he finds himself making an inadvisable marriage to a social inferior just to relieve some of the tedium of life in the factory.

(Covers of all editions)

Click here for a more detailed synopsis but please beware of plot spoilers!

Context: Balchin’s employment as an industrial psychologist at the National Institute of Industrial Psychology in the 1930s took him into a great many factories and undoubtedly provided much of the material for this novel.

Verdict: It’s a well-written and interesting book but lacks pace and drama. Industrial historians may find the technical background to be of interest.

Praise for No Sky:

“No Sky is a first novel not only of promise but of achievement” — Daily Telegraph

“Mr. Balchin has made a good beginning; you can believe every word in his book” — Sunday Times

Rating: 5/10

Availability: Effectively none! If you really have to read No Sky then your best bet is probably to join a legal deposit library such as the British Library, who will have a copy that you can read in situ. I’ve only seen one copy for sale on the Internet in the last ten years; I bought it, so unfortunately that copy has been taken out of circulation!