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The Chequer Board by Nevil Shute
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The Chequer Board (1947)

by Nevil Shute

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John Turner, a young man with a checkered past, has been told he has just one year to live. He decides to use his remaining time in search of three very different men he met in the hospital during the war, each of them in trouble of some kind: a pilot whose wife had betrayed him, a young corporal charged with killing a civilian in a brawl, and a black G.I. wrongly accused of the attempted rape of a white English girl. As Turner discovers where these men have landed on the checkerboard of life, he learns about compassion, tolerance, and second chances, and overcomes his fear of death.
This particular work of his combines Shute's interest in race relations with stories about British people during the war. Our book club is a mixed-race group containing some members old enough to recal the strength of prejudice in the USA during the 1940s. To them, the attitudes portrayed in "The Chequer Board" ring true. War time England.
  MasseyLibrary | Feb 28, 2018 |
John Turner, a young man with a checkered past, has been told he has just one year to live. He decides to use his remaining time in search of three very different men he met in the hospital during the war, each of them in trouble of some kind: a pilot whose wife had betrayed him, a young corporal charged with killing a civilian in a brawl, and a black G.I. wrongly accused of the attempted rape of a white English girl. As Turner discovers where these men have landed on the checkerboard of life, he learns about compassion, tolerance, and second chances, and overcomes his fear of death.
This particular work of his combines Shute's interest in race relations with stories about British people during the war. Our book club is a mixed-race group containing some members old enough to recal the strength of prejudice in the USA during the 1940s. To them, the attitudes portrayed in "The Chequer Board" ring true. War time England.
  MasseyLibrary | Feb 28, 2018 |
The Chequer Board by Nevile Shute is another fine example of this author’s work. This is a multi-part story telling of the experience of John Taylor, whom the doctors have given just one year to live due to injuries that he sustained in a wartime plane crash. Turner decides to use his remaining time to trace three men that he got to know while recovering in the hospital.

Turner and two others were under guard while in hospital as all had been charged with crimes. Turner served some time in military prison for stealing supplies from the army and selling the supplies at a profit. Corporal Duggie Brent was under a murder charge as this British Commando killed a man during a bar fight, and Pfc Dave Lesurier, a black American servicemen, had tried to kill himself after he had been accused of trying to rape a young English girl. The third man, Flying Officer Philip Morgan, who had displayed a certain amount of racism, had relocated to Burma, and had matured and learned to be much more tolerant of race issues. The outcome of Turner’s search lead to a few surprises as the lives of these men was much different than what Turner had expected.

I found this an interesting story, perhaps a little too idealistic and simplified, but Shute is at his best when writing of the average man and his story-telling skills are put to good use here. The parts that dealt with the question of racism was handled well and he obviously had a great deal of sympathy for the black American servicemen and the tensions that surrounded them. One word of warning in that the word N ----- was used frequently, but fit with the story as this term was commonly used in the late 1940’s . The Chequer Board is a heart-warming morality tale of second chances and is a great read for anyone who needs their faith in their fellow man restored. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Dec 19, 2017 |
Interesting--stories within stories within stories! I wish he'd write more about Southeast Asia--every time he does you can just see how much he loves it. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
A bloke who has done reasonably well for himself decides to track down the people he shared a hospital ward with during the war. He thinks he might be able to help them out a bit. It's a story of how he tracks them down, and the surprising turns their lives have taken. ( )
  johnthefireman | Jun 30, 2012 |
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Epigraph
'Tis all a Chequer board of Nights and Days Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:  Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays, And one by one back in the Closet lays. - Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Edward Fitzgerald.
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I saw Mr John Turner first on June the 25th last year.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330202677, Paperback)

classic British author

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

John Turner, a young man with a checkered past, has been told he has just one year to live. He decides to use his time in search of three very different men he met briefly during the war: a snobbish British pilot, a young corporal accused of murder, and a black G.I. accused of attempted rape. Along the way, Turner learns about forgiveness, tolerance and second chances, and overcomes his fear of death.… (more)

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