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An Old Captivity

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  341 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Young pilot Donald Ross has little in common with the Oxford archaeologist 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, in search of the ruins of early Viking settlements, their destinies are inextricably bound by the events that unfol ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by House of Stratus (first published 1940)
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This old yarn of a novel feels as though after a minimum of plotting and the occasion assisting sip of whisky and soda the author just typed and typed until the book was done.

It opens with the framing device of a man listening to another man's story. Logically the point of view in the rest of the book until we reach the frame again should be the storytellers - but it isn't (at least not consistently). Slightly oddly the end of the story doesn't match up with the storytellers situation in the int
[9/10] Nevil Shute does his storytelling trick once again. This is a straightforward tale of an archeological expedition to Greenland sometime between two world wars, three people in a small plane against a hostile environment even in the months os summer. And the story of two people from wildly different backgrounds coming to understand and care for each other.

The author knows his stuff when it comes to early aviation and the level of detail both in the preparation of the journey and in the act
Nevil Shute's style will probably not please the modern reader much, and that is unfortunate. His love of detail and the pains he goes to make sure of what he is stating are characteristics that I enjoy in his texts. Sometimes, he goes to an almost ridiculous extent to flesh out the reality of his background, when it probably would not be missed. Yet just as he does this, you can see him entering a truly fictional world in which, whoops, his characters suddenly do resemble real people and his na ...more
An Old Captivity is rather hard to pin down, in terms of genre. It's clumsy in places, too -- the frame story is okay to begin with, but then... doesn't really do anything. It doesn't match up properly with the rest of the story. That didn't bother me too much, though. I got really absorbed in all the concrete details of this book: the plane, Ross' efforts to get ready for the trip, his worries, his sleeplessness... the slow growing of understanding between him and Alix. Even the precise geograp ...more
Having recently read a series of disappointing, or just more challenging books, picking up another Nevil Shute novel was the reading equivalent of (or ideal compliment to) curling up in a favorite chair with tea and good music - at once calming and invigorating, familiar and new. A perfect relaxation read.

This again features his great characters - earnest without being stiff, and good but not prim. An aging Oxford don wants to survey an area of Greenland for his archeological research. He knows
I'm not even sure I should call this fantasy, but whatever, my shelves don't claim to be an exhaustive list of categories. Ride-along time-travel In A Dream is SF for people who don't want to write SF; I probably shouldn't comment until I've read more Shute, but I get the feeling he thought SF had to have a certain plausible deniability and be separated hygienically by framing narratives in order to be respectable. (There's a really weird half of a framing narrative right at the beginning with a ...more
Starts out like a classic Nevil Shute novel--earnest, highly competent, decent young man sets out on a difficult, if not hazardous journey/quest, with the requisite innocent young woman in the picture, of course. Nobody does this better than Mr. Shute, and I had settled in for a nice ride when I suddenly realized that time and pages were passing quickly and no acute problems had arisen for our hero to solve. Not only that, there didn't seem to be time or space left for both the problems and the ...more
Elisabeth van Breda
At first you may think it is boring but reading on you're brilliantly captivated in the story of a modern pilot who becomes an illness while everybody depends on him. During his illness he hallucinates he was in a previous life. All in all it makes you wonder...
wendy c
I really enjoy Nevil Shute's books. Yes, some have dated a bit, but this writers love for his fellow man, his excellent writing, and his perception has always delighted me. This is a paranormal romance in it's way.
A man meets Donald Ross on a train which has been stopped in a remote place because of a train off the rails. Ross tells his story while they wait. Ross grew up in Scotland with his aunt who was a teacher. He went into the Royal Air Force, and then to Canada to fly float planes in remote northern areas. When that job ended he went back to Scotland and spent some time looking for a job. He hears from a friend about a job with Mr. Lockwood at Oxford for a photographic expedition to Greenland. Lock ...more
Firstyl, I loved this book.
Secondly, I think the synopsis is a bit misleading - "A young airman, an Oxford don and his beautiful daughter are on an expedition to the Arctic. This time-travel story tells how they are transported by explorers of another age: the Norsemen and their long ships of a thousand years before."

Not only is she not descried as being beautiful ever (it's usually the opposite in fact) and the time travel part only takes up about 5% of the actual story.

I think that a little mo
I returned once again to one of my favorite authors, Nevil Shute. Although I’d read this book before, at least 10 years ago or more, I eagerly got into it for this second reading. Donald Ross is a Scotsman who was raised by his aunt following the death of his parents. Funds were not available to send him to Oxford when it was his time to go to college. Instead he goes into the British Royal Air Force, becoming a very good pilot during his five-year period of service. After this he follows the jo ...more
I remember reading this while in high school or college; it is a trifle dated but still a good read. Many of Shute’s books involve flying, and often involve flashback stories or a person’s existence in a prior life. This is the story of Donald Ross, who had been a pilot in Canada and done some arctic flying, who is engaged by Professor Lockwood to fly them to Greenland to take aerial photos of a possible archaeological site. The Professor is naïve in the extreme about what such an expedition wo ...more
María of Spain
I loved the prose, the descriptions of 1930s England, the dialogues and the main character. The theme itself was, well, quite silly. Why set the main history within the context of reincarnation-dreams, instead of simply taking the main characters to the time of the action, and that'd be it??
Not one of Nevil Shute's greatest, but still far and above other author's books. A good mystery book and one you won't want to put down.
I was very impressed by the story, which, although it contained elements of the supernatural, is so realistic that it reads like a memoir! It tells of a young pilot who is hired to fly an expedition into Greenland, and in the process takes a dream journey back in time in the footsteps of a young slave captured by the Vikings.

It is a tribute to Nevil Shute's talent that there are no villains in this book, and yet I found myself reading far into the night, compelled to find out what happens. Its b
Such an old-fashioned novel, probably even old-fashioned for its time. Sort of Jules-Vernian, in a way, though completely different in tone. Three perfectly ordinary people go on an expedition, and in the midst of the perfectly ordinary minutiae of the daily trials, the weather, the health problems, the airplane maintenance, something completely out of the ordinary happens. Since I studied the Icelandic sagas in college, I had a pretty good idea where this was going, but I was quite happy to go ...more
Gosh darn it if I can figure out why I like Nevil Shute. By all means, this should be the dullest story ever created... but somehow Shute manages time after time to make the mundane captivating. The plot is technically boring beyond belief; the only really interesting part - the actual point of the book - is brief and almost at the very end. As for the characters, they are just very plain ordinary people. So why do I like it? It must be voodoo of a nefarious British sort.
This one grew on me as I read it. My favorite may still be [author; nevil shute:]'s no highway" but an an old captivity takes the reader into challenging territory in more ways than one !
Sybil Powell
This is one of my favourite books. As often happens with Nevil Shute's books it's two tales in one. The main story is of an expedition to Greenland the other is a dream of far off times when the Norsemen discovered America. In the final pages the two tales meld into one. There is of course romance Shute style which always get me so involved I hate arriving at the end of the book.
Henry Tegner
I have read every one of Shute's novels and this has to be about my favourite. A gentle, sad love story, and an easy read. I first came across it about 40 years ago and have returned to it half a dozen times since. Shute, in common with many, was deeply affected by the tragedies resulting from the Second World War. Many of his novels are set in it's aftermath.
Big fan of Nevil Shute here... but not my favourite of his works (that I've read so far.) I think the blurb on the back put me off a bit - it's not a time travel tale AT ALL! Still, the author's knowledge and experience of aviation is clear and vast and that is a joy to read of.
Once again, Nevil Shute writes a book that is mainly about airplane maintenance. Once again, I cannot put it down. The ending was kind of lame though, so only 3 stars for you, Mr Shute!
A strange read - not a lot happened for three-quarters of it, but it was still keeping me interested... then a complete twist which made no sense! Not Shute's finest hour....
Oh, good grief, this one was also really weird but I liked the main pilot and the details of the trip to Greenland, and it was nice that the bitchy girl came around in the end.
This is a book I read years ago and I enjoyed it immensely. I’ve read all of Nevil Shute’s books. The best by far is “A Town Like Alice.”
Jim Puskas
A typical Shute story in many ways, including a sudden time-shift into a different world, a device that Shute frequently used.
Two young people on an aerial expedition to Nova Scotia share a vision of its early exploration by the Vikings in their dreams.
I love his books. This was a bit different than the others but it still made me feel what life was like in 1950
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Nevil Shute Norway was a popular British novelist and a successful aeronautical engineer. He used Nevil Shute as his pen name, and his full name in his engineering career, in order to protect his engineering career from any potential negative publicity in connection with his novels. He lived in Australia for the ten years before his death.
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