Bestseller Books A Town Like Alice published Nevil Shute s most beloved novel a tale of love and war follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Austra
Bestseller Books A Town Like Alice published Nevil Shute s most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven month death march with dozens of other women and children A few years after the war, JeanNevil Shute s most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven month death march with dozens of other women and children A few years after the war, Jean is back in England, the nightmare behind her However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life Jean s travels leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war time ordeals.. A viral Book A Town Like Alice There are books we can't be entirely rational about. For good or bad, they push our personal buttons, and we adore or detest them beyond their own merits.A Town Like Alice is one of those books I love beyond reason. It contains courage, determination when the odds are against you, and taking action to change others' lives and the world around you for the better. It has some bittersweet moments, as well as a little bit of romance.Nevil Shute based this 1950 novel on a WWII story he had heard about Dutch women and children, who were Japanese prisoners of war, who were marched around Sumatra from place to place because the Japanese had no prison camp to put them in, many of them dying along the way. (As it turns out, he misunderstood the story: they didn't actually have to walk but were transported around the country.) He used this as the basis for this story of Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman who becomes the leader of a group of women and children who are forced to walk from town to town in Japanese-occupied Malaya (now Malaysia), in terrible circumstances. Along the way they meet a kind Australian POW, Joe Harman, a young man who helps them with food and other necessities and quickly becomes a friend to Jean. But Jean and Joe run into trouble when Joe steals some black Leghorn chickens for the underfed group. What happens then, and after, makes for a fascinating story.Malaysian villageAfter the war, Jean inherits some money, and becomes friends with Noel Strachan, the elderly English solicitor who is her trustee. Noel is the narrator for most of the novel, and sometimes his voice gets a little dry and tedious in relating tangential details, kind of befitting an aging lawyer (I can say that :D). At the same time, he has a certain old-fashioned charm and wry humor. Noel watches Jean fall in love with a distinct feeling of regret, since her new life will take her away from England, but he continues to help her as she begins to transform the Australian outback town where she has chosen to live. Queensland, AustraliaAs he decides to travel to visit Jean to help her with some legal matters, one of his law partners is concerned for his health:"I only wish you hadn't got to put so much of your energy into this. After all, it's a fairly trivial affair.""I can't agree with that," I said. "I'm beginning to think that this thing is the most important business that I ever handled in my life."I've read this book three or four times over the years. I noticed much more this time how Noel's narration sometimes gets repetitive and tedious (I wish I had a dollar for every time a character stared at someone or said "Oh my word"). I don't know if Nevil Shute deliberately wrote it that way or if that's just his style of writing. But then there's a wonderful scene or a lovely turn of phrase, and I fall in love with this book all over again.In the half light he turned as she came out of the hut, and he was back in the Malay scene of six years ago. She was barefooted, and her hair hung down in a long plait, as it had been in Malaya. She was no longer the strange English girl with money; she was Mrs. Boong again, the Mrs. Boong he had remembered all those years.It's old-fashioned in many ways, but it still moves and inspires me. And for that reason, despite its occasional weaknesses, it's staying at the full five stars.February 2015 reread/buddy read with Hana.__________________Previous review:This is one of my all-time favorite books. It consists of two quite different halves, with the first half relating the travails of Jean Paget and a group of English women in Malaya during WWII, and the second half about Jean's romance with an Australian man she had met briefly during her travels in Malaya and her efforts to turn his Australian town into a decent place for women and families to live. I may be in the minority of liking the second half better than the first, not just for the romance (which is nice but doesn't take up a lot of space in the book) but more for the way in which the main character takes action to change her town. It's inspiring and enjoyable reading, even if rather deliberately paced at times. Highly recommended.