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An Old Captivity by Nevil Shute

An Old Captivity (1940)

by Nevil Shute

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Donald Ross is a young man who learned flying in the military, then honed his craft flying about Canada, learning the intricacies of flying over the water and in remote places. He gets a job with an archeologist, Mr. Lockwood, who wants to investigate the possibility of Celtic settlements on Greenland. The operation is to be financed by Lockwood's rich, industrialist brother. There's a clinker, however, it seems that Lockwood's frumpy and prickly daughter, Alix, is to join the expedition. To Ross, that doesn't bode well, but he does need a job and likes the challenge.

So, they head off. In Iceland, Ross begins having sleep problems. He procures a prescription of "propylin" (no idea what that might be). The first few nights, he sleeps like the dead and wakes up refreshed. But as the journey progresses, he begins having strange dreams. He begins reliving the life of some early settler to Greenland hundreds of years previously. Strangely, Alix seems to appear in the dreams as well. He even begins seeing "remembered" landmarks. Something like that.

This being Nevil Shute, the book is chock full of nerdy technical details about planes and engines and flying into and out of sea landings and how to secure sea planes and so forth. Still, it's quite a good yarn, as are all Nevil Shute tales, albeit somewhat more mystical than most of his works. Truly a GoodRead.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |

A fascinating book by Shute. His usual competent engineer hero is tasked with organising an archaeologist's air photography mission to Greenland, sponsored by the archaeologist's rich elder brother, and to his dismay accompanied by the archaeologist's daughter. The planning and implementation of the expedition are lovingly detailed; the year is roughly 1937 (the book was published in 1940, but there is no mention of impending war).

And then three quarters of the way through, we have a sudden shift; and our competent engineer hero falls into a coma and dreams of a past life as a Scottish slave among the Viking settlers of Greenland, with the professor's daughter being his lover's reincarnation. That part of the story told on its own could easily fall into total cliche, but the fact that we have had a couple of hundred pages of technical exposition beforehand makes it tremendously effective. A very pleasant surprise. ( )
  nwhyte | Mar 11, 2018 |
flight to greenland ( )
  keithgordonvernon | Aug 19, 2017 |
flight to greenland ( )
  keithgordonvernon | May 1, 2017 |
Shute, always a good reed ( )
  brone | Aug 2, 2016 |
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This case came before me quite by chance in the spring of last year.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330104195, Paperback)

A novel which has been unavailable for 4 years, about a young airman, an Oxford don and his beautiful daughter who, on an expedition to the Arctic, are transported by explorers of another age - the Norsemen and their longships of a thousand years before.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:30 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Young pilot Donald Ross has little in common with the Oxford don who has employed him on an expedition to the Arctic - and still less with his beautiful but stubborn daughter, Alix. But once the three of them reach the treacherous shores of Greenland their destinies are inextricably bound by the events that unfold there.… (more)

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