Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nevil Shute - A Town Like Alice Review

I happened to read this novel, while in school. I was a western novel freak and I still don't know how this novel got into my head. Maybe, it was to show others, that I too read books, other than comics and westerns.

However, this book was the one that made me start a long over affair with books, other than westerns.

Unfortunately, I am now more dependent on the net and movies now, and it is quite sad for someone who used to read a book a day. Although, I do try and catch up, but my attention wanders soon after. Maybe the love for books will return some day.

It was an uncle who introduced Nevil Shute to me. Uncle Radhakrishnan (RIP) was an avid reader. He used to read and smoke his "Scissors" with a cup of tea for hours. I used to be in awe just watching him. He then used to tell me the stories that he had read. He used to be busy with office work, and slowly and he would ask me to read and complete the story. Looking back, I think that was the turning point, when Alice came in to my head.

Now, you might be wondering what made this book return now.... maybe because, I was watching Alicia Silverstone’s "Clueless" the other day... which by the way is absolutely clueless......and I switched channels to one of the popular music stations... and the song, "Who the f'**k is Alice" was playing.... So, I thought this was a sign, a sort of deja vu... I must write a piece on the book and perhaps that will give uncle the much-needed rest from my head.

So, here it is... I am just "shueting out"

Now a small intro from wikipedia...

Nevil Shute Norway (17 January 1899 – 12 January 1960) was an English novelist, and aeronautical engineer who spent his later years in Australia. He used his full name in his engineering career, and Nevil Shute as his pen name to protect his engineering career from any potential negative publicity in connection with his novels. Shute died in Melbourne in 1960 after a stroke.

A Town Like Alice is a classic romance (among other things), by Nevil Shute. It was published in 1950, and reflects the bias and prejudices of its time, but it is also a powerful book about a smart, tough, resourceful young woman. It is more of an economic development and romance novel, when Shute had newly settled in Australia.

And a brief review on the story...from Carrie,

Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman, becomes romantically interested in a fellow prisoner of World War II in Malaya, and after liberation emigrates to Australia to be with him, where she attempts, by investing her substantial financial inheritance, to generate economic prosperity in a small outback community — to turn it into "a town like Alice" i.e. Alice Springs.

It is also a story about healing – after the war, Jean feels “About a hundred years old,” and when she finds out that Joe Harmon is alive, she begins to come alive herself again. Joe and Jean are touching, sweet, and sexy together and very funny. It is also a story that is very strong in depiction of place – London, Malaysia, and Australia come to vivid life in the pages. It is a short book full of powerful moments.

Jean survives in Malaysia because she takes time to learn the language, she respects the culture, and she adopts many Malaysian habits that make her life much easier and more comfortable.

I have read this two times, and each time and what strikes you is the way, Jean and Joe accept one another. They are very funny together, and are adamant that they will not attempt to change each other, even though they are both willing to change themselves. They trust each other completely and they balance each other well and they have great sex (off page – it’s implied)

The novel was adapted to a film in 1956 as A Town Like Alice. It starred Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch, directed by Jack Lee. This film was known as Rape of Malaya in U.S. cinemas, and by various other titles in non-English-speaking countries