Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Town Like Alice

A Town Like AliceA Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
Evan’s ESS = 9 out of 10
Erin’s ESS =  out of 10
Content = PG (Adult Content, Violence, Sexual Content, Dingoes, Helpful Mechanics)

Why:  In order to fully experience this review we recommend utilizing an Australian accent from this point forth.  For some warm up words try a few of our favorites from the book:  Bonza, Crook, Ringer, Walkabout, and Biffo.  Oh, and we’re happy to report that no babies were stolen by dingoes in this story...

Noel Strachan got more than he bargained for when, as solicitor, he notified Jean Paget of her unexpected inheritance.  He was intrigued by his new client and quickly learned of her horrific past.  It turned out that Ms. Paget was taken prisoner by the Japanese’s army while working overseas in the country of Malaya.  Along with several other women and children the group was marched unapologetically back and forth across the country while WWII ran its course.  The conditions were ghastly and many from the group didn’t survive, yet, for Jean Paget, a chance encounter would alter her life forever.

We have so many good things to say about A Town Like Alice, so let us get started.  We loved the Aussie, Joe Harman.  Yes, we loved Jean Paget too, but Joe Harman is the most recent addition to our ever-growing list of all time favorite literary characters.  That being said, Jean Paget was an extraordinarily courageous woman.  She took on a leadership role in the jungles of Malaya during an incomprehensible set of circumstances.  And her post war life was no less impressive.  We don’t want to say too much, but she was charitable when most people would have looked the other way and she managed to survive a pretty epic horse journey.  We also enjoyed the irony of Jean being unable to fully take control of her inheritance because her benefactor didn’t think too highly of the money management skills of females.  Guess who gets the last laugh... if she would have been the type to laugh at things like that.              

We don’t have too many negative things to say about A Town Like Alice, but we could see how some readers might think the actual climax occurred at the halfway mark with the culmination of WWII.  For us though, there was so much more to the story and we loved to watch the intriguing post war scenario play out.  We also thoroughly enjoyed exploring the villages of Malaya and various parts of Australia.  Still, what makes this novel even more interesting is that much of the plot is based on real events.  Why do we suddenly want to move to the outback? 


  1. I never knew what this book was about, so I'm glad I read your review of it. Ever since this title turned up on that list of books that the BBC compiled I've been curious of it.

  2. I enjoyed this one, too! And I saw the movie version from 1956 - I don't recommend it. They cut almost everything in Australia! And like you said, that was such an important part of the novel. (It's a shame I read/saw this movie before your challenge started or I totally could have counted it.) I'm with you on Joe, too.

    For some reason Google has decided not to recognize me today (must be the dark glasses). Imagine this next sentence read in an announcer's voice: This comment posted by Peggy Tryton.

  3. Ugh as an Aussie it shames me to say I haven't read this yet - great to see you enjoyed it though, I do really hope to read it soon.

  4. I would not mind reading an aussie story I haven't read one yet! :)

    Also LOL at 'no babies being eaten by dingos'! ;D