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A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
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A Town Like Alice (1950)

by Nevil Shute

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,0831172,987 (4.06)397
"A tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback." -- Cover, p.4.
  1. 00
    The Promise of Rain by Donna Milner (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: More POW hell
  2. 00
    In the Wet by Nevil Shute (Booksloth)
  3. 00
    The Flamboya Tree: Memories of a Mother's Wartime Courage by Clara Kelly (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Though fiction, the war experiences of Jean Padgett are based in fact from the Island of Sumatra, and gives a good view of what was going on on other islands in the Pacific.
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» See also 397 mentions

English (112)  Danish (4)  German (1)  All languages (117)
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
After reading a few reviews I thought the lawyer parts of this book would be boring, but I think Noel was as compelling a character as Jean and Joe. A wonderful book. ( )
  Fardo | Oct 15, 2019 |
3.5 stars

Jean is in her 20s when she is left an inheritance by an uncle she never knew; she is his only descendant. But, he didn’t trust women to take care of money, so it was left in a trust with the lawyer, Noel, until Jean turns 35. Noel gets to know Jean quite well and learns of her history as a prisoner of war in Malaya (Singapore) with other women and children who were forced to march on and on and on because there was no actual prison for them. Many died in the travels. Along the way, Jean met an Australian prisoner.

It was good. Odd point of view, told from Noel’s POV, though Jean was the main character, so it was pretty much her story told by him, but at a distance. There was racism (a heck of a lot to our 21st century eyes and ears), sexism, and the end, I thought, was pretty implausible. I don’t want to say too much, but Jean single-handedly doing as much as she did? I doubt it. Despite all that, though, it was a good story. The author’s note at the end was interesting – the prisoner march of women and children really did happen. ( )
1 vote LibraryCin | Aug 11, 2019 |
Yet another very engaging book by Nevil Shute. This book covers the life and adventures of a young English woman, Jean Paget, from her experiences before and during World War II until she settles in the Australian Outback some years after the war ends.

The book begins with Jean, a stenographer for a purveyor of fine leather goods, being told that she has inherited a legacy. She becomes friendly with the lawyer who tells her about this and he becomes rather avuncularly attached to her. During the course of a number of interviews, her early life is outlined. She had been brought up on a rubber plantation in Malaya, had moved to England for "proper" schooling at age 11. Had moved back to Malaya after her schooling when her father's company had "provided" for the father's heirs by hiring Jean and her brother. Bummer that World War II had broken out and she got trapped in Malaya for quite some time, being marched around the country by Japanese occupying forces who weren't quite sure what to do with the women. Jean's having learned the Malay language helped these wandering women out quite a bit. During the wanderings, she meets an Australian POW who beguiles her of stories of his home town, Alice Springs in the Outback.

All of this was in the past. But, after she gains her legacy, Jean decides to revisit Malaya and to go to Alice Springs to see if is half as wonderful as imagined. Naturally, more adventures ensue. It all makes for a rather engaging story, in part because Jean is a strong, competent young woman, and thereby, rather engaging. ( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
Simply a marvelous book. ( )
  bcrowl399 | May 5, 2019 |
An elderly English lawyer searches for an heiress to a small fortune and unexpectedly finds a young woman who survived Japanese captivity during World War II. The war section of the book is set on the island of Malaya, although the events Shute used for the story's basis took place on Sumatra.

Jean Paget, twenty-ish at the time, is part of a group of English women and children captured during the Japanese invasion and, because the Japanese don't know what to do with them, are marched from village to village for many months (historically, the women were Dutch, and the march lasted for two and a half years). In Shute's version, the women eventually manage to get permission to settle in an isolated village, where they live as natives and help produce rice in the paddies. When Jean is located in London after the war, she tells the lawyer her story, and she continues to write him for several years after as she travels back to visit the village where she lived and then goes on to Australia.

Much of this book is enthralling, with just a few spots that drag, but the overall story is quite a panorama of one woman's ability to make the best of any situation in which she finds herself. There are several very, very dramatic moments during the time on Malaya, one of which made me actually gasp out loud. The book is a combination of war story, love story, and woman's story. Really, the only thing I began to cringe at was the very frequent use of the phrase "oh my word" by various characters (not Jean, thank goodness, since she's in almost every scene). That more than anything else dates the book, and if I never hear that phrase again it'll be too soon, but I'm still delighted to have read this. ( )
1 vote auntmarge64 | Apr 24, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nevil Shuteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bailey, RobinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, NeilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
— W. B. Yeats
Dedication
First words
James MacFadden died in March 1905 when he was forty-seven years old; he was riding in the Driffield Point-to-Point.
On the publication of this book I expect to be accused of falsifying history, especially in regard to the march and death of the homeless women prisoners. (Author's Note)
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"A Town Like Alice" was originally published as "The Legacy".
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