A Town Like Alice

A Town Like Alice

Book - 2010
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Nevil Shute's most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.

Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean is back in England, the nightmare behind her. However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life. But it turns out that they have a gift for her as well: the news that the young Australian soldier, Joe Harmon, who had risked his life to help the women, had miraculously survived. Jean's search for Joe leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war-time ordeals.
Publisher: New York : Vintage International, 2010.
Edition: First Vintage International edition.
Copyright Date: ©1950
ISBN: 9780307474001
Characteristics: 350 pages ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Shute, Nevil 1899-1960. Legacy.


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Oct 05, 2018

LCL Adult Book Group discussing this on Thur 10/11/2018

ArapahoeChristineS Mar 04, 2018

An engrossing classic fiction with historical roots. With a somewhat slow but steady pace this is a story of a resourceful and compassionate heroine named Jean. It delves deep into her character and her resolve. Fast forward from the Malayan death march, we find Jean utilizing the skills she acquired to turn an outpost in Australia into a town like Alice. Jean is not the only heroine of the novel though; written in the 1950's it is full of heroic women, who did the right thing, not the easiest. It also has a beautiful love story weaved in. Such a great read.

Aug 08, 2016

This book came highly recommended to me, and while it was an interesting piece of historical fiction (favorite genre), it wasn't one of the best. I struggled through uneventful parts, put it down frequently, and was hoping for some dramatic or tragic ending only to be left at the end wishing for something more....

Oct 17, 2015

I've read this novel probably three times. Shute's an excellent teller of stories about WW II, and of Australia. I agree that there's some very offensive language (for today) that wasn't considered offensive in the time it was written (unless it was directed at you). That didn't actually strike me as I read. The story of the POWs in the Malayan jungle during WWII feels more real than may real POW stories I've read. The love story, and life in the Outback, are very different, but don't feel tacked on. Shute does a remarkable job of meshing all these stories.

Aug 28, 2015

One of Shute's very best stories, covering a vast time span, beginning in Southeast Asia during WW2 and re-uniting some of the characters many years later in Australia.

Sep 05, 2014

19/7 - This was written in 1950, it uses language common to 1950. These facts have to be remembered when reading A Town like Alice, and reacting to said language. The characters use words like 'Abos', 'Nips', 'Boongs', and other offensive names for the indigenous people of Malaya and Australia, and the invading Japanese forces. This type of language makes me feel uncomfortable while reading the book, but at the same time I accept that this was simply the way people talked in those days. So, if I (or any other reader) wants to read books written before this decade, I have to be aware of the possibility that there is going to be some offensive - racist, sexist, misogynistic - language, and I can't yell and scream at the book because of it.

21/7 - Great book, just wish it had been a little longer, I didn't want it to end. While Willstown was fictional, there is a Burketown (also mentioned in the book, and could possibly be considered the inspiration for Willstown). Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, Burketown didn't prosper under the care of a Jean-like character and nearly 150 years after its establishment it's still languishing with a population of only 173. Their peak population occurred in 1911 at 265. They don't even have a public swimming pool, a dream of Jean's for Willstown.

Jan 27, 2014

This book was amazing! My grandfather sent it to me as one of his "good friends". He was right, it is now one of mine that I will recommend to friends! It was a wonderful book. A story about courage, survival,adventure, love, and personal growth. Who wouldn't wanna read a book like that? I don't even know how to describe other than just pick it up and give it a shot. :)

allisonmaginot Oct 16, 2013

Absolutely loved this book. I've never read much about Australia, but through the author's vivid depictions of the outback the country came to life. Great story about a courageous young woman, a thoughtful older man, and a brave Aussie...all characters who teach about human sacrifice and kindness.

Dec 29, 2012

Just finished my 2nd reading of this wonderful story of love and hardship and endurance. Also love the made for TV version of it from the 80s with Bryan Brown and Helen Morse (?).

Highly recommended!

Shute was a very talented writer of tales of WW2 - worth looking for his other works

Oct 02, 2012

This is a good book. The BBC made a series out of it that is wonderful.

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Jan 09, 2016

Hesna_Y thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Sep 05, 2014

Sarah1984 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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