Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Town like Alice by Nevil Shute

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

When Noel Strachan becomes the executor of a client's will, he has a big of digging to do to determine who in the family has survived the war and who will be the beneficiary of his client's estate. He eventually finds his client's niece, Jean Paget. Miss Paget was a prisoner of war while she was in Malaya during the WWII, but she was not a typical prisoner. Her and a group of women were set wandering from town to town until the Japanese could figure out what to do with them. During this wandering Jean met Joe, an Australian, who was required to fix the transport for the Japanese. However when Joe was caught stealing, he was crucified and assumed dead.

When Jane learns of her inheritance, she tells Noel (and consequently the reader) her story. She sets out to travel back to this small town where she had settled down to repay them for their kindness. However she learns about other people she met during her time in the country, which changes her journey plans.

It becomes evident very quickly that this book was written in the 40s/50s. It has a relaxed nature to it and all of the characters are very polite and proper. Even with the slow pace, it captures you from the very start. While I can't say I loved any of the characters, I certainly cared enough to learn about what was going to happen to them. I did enjoy Jean though, she is a very business-oriented character, which I imagine would be hard to find a women of such outward business orientation in those days.

There was one part of the book though that I felt didn't fit. It seemed that the part of Mr. Curtis from the neighbouring station getting lost was just put in the book to extend it by an extra couple of pages. Looking back, I can't really see what purpose it served.

Other than that, a quaint book! I enjoyed it and I've been told that On the Beach is another Nevil Shute book that would make a good read.

First Line: "James Macfadden died in March 1905 when he was forty-seven years old; he was riding in the Driffield Point-to-Point."



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