A Novel About the Transition Movement

2nd life of Sally Mottram

By the bestselling author of the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.

The Second Life of Sally Motram

By David Nobbs (2014)

Book Review

Comedy writer David Nobbs, known for the British satiric news program That Was the Week, That Was and the hit TV series The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, died on August 8 at age 80. The latter was a bestselling book before it became a TV show.

The back cover makes no mention that The Second Life of Sally Motram concerns the Transition Town movement. In fact, this is only revealed on page 117, when the heroine goes to Totnes (the birthplace of the Transition movement) and comes home with The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins.

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin has always been one of my favorite TV series, thanks to Nobbs’s brilliant portrayal of human quirks, foibles and idiosyncrasies. The same humor pervades his final novel, his parting gift to the sustainability movement.

The plot concerns a penniless widow of a colorless lawyer who has hanged himself rather than face bankruptcy over his gambling debts. Through the efforts of heroine Sally Mottram, the dying former mill town of Potherthwait resurrects itself by joining the international Transition movement. Like Transition Towns all over the world, residents breathe new life into their community by reviving local food production, installing solar energy projects, rejuvenating local businesses and general community building.

Although our own efforts to launch Transition Town New Plymouth haven’t been quite as spectacular as Potherthwaite’s, I found it reassuring that Mottram struggled with many of the same quirks and foibles trying to organize her friends and neighbors.

Nobbs acknowledges his stepdaughter and her husband for inspiring him to write the book. Both are heavily involved with the French Transition movement.

I can’t wait for it to become a TV series. Imagine a sit-com about political activism and social change.


Link to Transition New Plymouth Facebook page: Transition New Plymouth