Thursday, 20 May 2010
Review: A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
Title: A Town Like Alice
Author: Nevil Shute
First Published: 1950
My Rating: 4/5
This is the story of Jean Paget and Joe Harman, Japanese prisoners of war, told through the eyes of Jean's trustee, Noel Strachan. Crossing the three countries of Malaya, England and Australia, we follow the characters through some tough times and harsh climates during and in the aftermath of the Second World War, where love endures.
It is an engrossing read, covering many fascinating facts and touching on several interesting themes that affected the people of this time. Most interesting to me was the contrast between the treatment of male prisoners and their children and female counterparts by the Japanese. I found the respect, care and attention (within their capabilities), shown to the women and children quite touching, and, I feel, still a true reflection of the Japanese culture of respect today. This also contrasted with the way in which the Australian cattle farmers treated the local "boongs" or Aborigines. Although they seemed to be well cared for within the story, they still had to be served in different shops and were not allowed to mix with the whites.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. The characters were, for the most part, likeable and believable, although I did have one or two little niggles about Jean. I found her to be far too sensible for my liking and was willing her to some small frivolous thing with her new-found wealth. I also found the way she ended almost every sentence with "Joe" a little irritating! A small point, I know, but I am very tricky to please! These two small chinks stopped me from rating this a full 5/5.
I thought I had read this in my late teens, but none of it seemed at all familiar, so I think I must be thinking of a different book. I read this for the Spring Challenge on Goodreads - the task was to read a book written under a pseudonym. Nevil Shute's real name is Nevil Shute Norway.