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Trustee from the Toolroom

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  1,687 ratings  ·  217 reviews
A novel tells the story of a man who leads an ordinary, uneventful life, until overnight he becomes the trustee of his 10-year-old niece, and involved in the search for some missing money.
Paperback, 305 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by House of Stratus (first published 1960)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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A personal note:

Before reading this book, my only exposure to the works of Nevil Shute had been watching the delightful movie A Town Like Alice. I used to watch that movie over and over as a kid, especially whenever my father (who has a workaholics dream job) had a little time to spend with me. Nevil Shute has always been one of his favorite authors and as such, that movie has always been a source of fond feelings. This month, I have a rare opportunity to spend time with my dad, as he's taking
Jul 04, 2010 Jenne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenne by: Liz Hildreth
Shelves: favorites, logistics
I think the reason I liked this book so much, is that like Remainder, it's a book about logistics. A very complicated thing needs to happen (In this case, a mild-mannered engineer who has never left England needs to get to a tiny island near Tahiti) and the book is about how people find creative solutions to get it done. For some reason, I am completely fascinated by this kind of story. Maybe it's all the years I spent playing "initiative games" at camp?

This is not the best book ever written. Th
Feb 23, 2013 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
The #9 bestseller from 1960 took me completely by surprise. The title invoked boredom and also made little sense. But On The Beach, Shute's bestseller from 1957, had made a big impression on me and gave me hope.

The trustee of the title is Keith Stewart, one of those unprepossessing fellows from postwar England who bumbles along, doesn't expect much, but is an honest and honorable sort. These days he would be considered a world class nerd.

In his basement workshop he makes miniature models of engi
Aug 13, 2012 Curtiss rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is my second favorite Nevil Shute story, after "A Town Like Alice."

My Dad flew full-sized airplanes and sailplanes, and also model airplanes; especially small rubber-band powered "Peanut" scale airplanes. He was known among the world-wide model airplane community as the "Ol' Professor" for the informative quality he incorporated into his numerous scale model airplane designs and instructions.

My Dad and Keith Stewart were so alike that many of his friends would point out the similarity betwe
My very favorite Nevil Shute novel. A seemingly simple man who writes articles about scale models must go on a quest. To say it simply, he must retrieve valuable gems from a ship-wrecked boat to support his niece. There are many adventures on the way to Polynesia (I think) andhe discovers that his life is not so small, after all. It's a quiet novel, no villains, but such a read. I have been looking for my own copy for years. Pick one up for me if you ever see one.

Update...just got the Kindle cop
I loved this book! There is nothing special about it, but it tells the story of very ordinary people rising to the occasion and doing what needs to be done. What that shows about their characters, plus the detailed information about mechanical engineering and sailing and logging and international politics made it un-put-downable for me. I can't wait to read it all over again!

It's not great literature, and doesn't pretend to be, but Shute reminds us just how well made and how well written mainstream, no-formula, no-gimmicks, popular fiction can be. Or at least could be.

Like most authors, Shute was at his best writing about what he knew, and what he knew more about than anything else were engineering (his career) and sailing (his passion). Both feature hugely in this highly unusual story about a humble, self-effacing but great-hearted little man who overcomes all obst
Andrew Walter
Recommended to me by my Dad (himself with a background in engineering) as one of Shute's best.

While reading this tale of quiet model engineer Keith Stewart's journey to previously unimagined parts of the globe in an attempt to recover his nieces birthright, I couldn't help feeling a little saddened throughout. It may be me spouting off, uninformed, with my higher education arts degree, but I got the impression while reading that books like this just won't be written anymore. Not due to the stren
Jun 18, 2015 Penny rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: shute-nevil
Nevil Shute is my all time favorite author. His stories and characters are just wonderful. Very easy reading and you don't want the story to end.
This one is about Keith Stewart who lives quietly in suburban London, working free-lance for a model mechanic magazine. His sister and brother-in-law have him hide a jewel box aboard their sailboat just before they emigrate to Vancouver. But when the ship goes down in the South Pacific with them aboard, Keith must not only raise their young daughter, b
Mar 11, 2014 Sam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
What happens when a mild-mannered British retiree with a love for making small models and a command of mechanical principals must go into the wide-world in order to help his family? Well sex, explosions, death, and political intrigue certainly do NOT ensue but you do get a great story of a simple man choosing to step far outside of his comfort zone in order to help the ones he loves.

My father is a similar sort of man, the type that can still quote and apply foundational math and scientific theo
Madhulika Liddle
Keith Stewart is a middle-aged mechanic who has given up the daily grind of a job to make mechanical models—for the joy he derives from them, and for the meagre income they bring him from the magazine Miniature Mechanics, for which he writes articles. He and his wife Katie (a store employee) lead a quiet, uneventful life. Very unlike Keith's sister Jo, married to an ex-naval officer, John Dermott. Jo and John lead far more flamboyant, exciting lives, and having decided one day to migrate to Cana ...more
What an interesting read exploring contrasting lifestyles and ways of working/thinking and looking at other people's lives. I loved getting to know the protagonist and the way he moves through life tackling problems CONSTRUCTIVELY is fascinating even if it feels slightly nostalgic! I loved the author's admiration for engineering and people who appreciate engineers!
Colleen Kleven
I was lucky enough to stumble across a box containing all 24 of Nevil Shute's novels in paperback. After putting them all in copyright date order, I have been able to read my way through most of his books while "watching" him progress as a writer. Such fun!
TRUSTEE FROM THE TOOLROOM. (1960). Nevil Shute. ****.
Nevil Shute (1899-1960) was an immensely popular writer in his day. His books include, “On The Beach,” and “A Town Like Alice.” He wrote a total of twenty-four novels and an autobiogrphy. Not all his novels were hits, but he had more than his share. He was of British/Australian extraction, but set his stories around the world. He was trained, early on, as an aeronautical engineer, and much of his engineering background sneaks into his stories
Andrea Blythe
Keith Stewart is a simple man, who has retired to follow his passion of making miniature functioning engines and machinery. He makes a small sum of money writing about these engineering projects for a magazine called the Miniature Mechanic. Living with his wife, who works in a local shop to help support them, he couldn't be happier.

Things become complicated, however, when Keith's sister and husband die in a ship wreck on a small island off Tahiti, leaving their young daughter in his care. Now a
Jul 16, 2008 Alyson rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alyson by: Deann Morin
Shelves: book-club, 2008
I see my score is a little below the average for this book. Hmm.

I've read one other Nevil Shute book, A Town Like Alice which I liked very much. I was drawn in from the beginning and really enjoyed it. Though it was more like two or three distinct books about the same character.

This one was a better, more cohesive story probably; but it was so filled with arcana (how to make a 1:20 scale generator with reduction gears, how to tack a jib and heave-to) that entire pages at a time would be "blah
Toi Thomas
I really enjoyed this story when it wasn’t making me angry (more on this later), but then I just have anger issues to begin with. This is a really simple and sweet clever story about a man who’s willing to go to great lengths to keep his word- and what’s not to like about that.

The story of Keith Stewart describes the rare instance of a man finding true peace and contentment in his life, career, and relationships. For Keith, the whole world revolves around his workshop and the work he does there
In keeping with my rereading of favorite books lately, I just finished this one, and I loved it more than ever. Shute is such a great guy. His characters are almost always very ordinary people who just happen to be really good, kind, and amiable. I think most people actually are, really, just we don't hear about them so much. Keith Stewart is no exception. He has to make a trip to a small island in the Pacific, and he hasn't got much money, because his job doesn't pay much. What he does is desig ...more
This is one of my favorites of all time. Last time I checked it was out of print and the used book sellers were all in the UK, but I keep watching to find an affordable copy. Trustee was a choice of my book club a couple of years ago, and after having read "A Town Like Alice", also by Shute, we looked forward to reading it. It certainly did not disappoint. While it has plenty of action, it is an uplifting book about a gentle man with strong moral values.

1/25/09 Update: My awesome daughter found
When comparing the highest average rating scores of Shute's books on Goodreads' rating, I saw Trustee tops the chart. Could get my vote, too.

The toolmaker is a cherished old fictional friend.

L.R. Pardee
Delightful. Just what you would expect from Nevil Shute.

Trustee from the Toolroom tells the story of a mild mannered engineer (Keith) who lives an unremarkable (and poorly paid) life designing and writing about miniature models. When his wealthy brother in law's yacht goes down in the South Pacific with his BIL and sister on board, Keith becomes the guardian for their daughter. The BIL's bank accounts turn up empty and Keith, having sealed his sister's jewels in the boat's engine block, realizes
Merelee Knott
One of the books I love to read and re-read again, and again, and again! You have to be patient in the beginning. The second time around, it's hilarious right from the start. The hero's sister and brother-in-law describe him as having no initiative, no fun, and he'll never go anywhere. They are so wrong! Long before the end, he has travelled halfway around the world. Not an easy feat for a nearly peniless, happily married, stay-at-home, Englishman in that era. Historical fiction authors take not ...more
Feb 15, 2015 JayeL added it
Shelves: audio, own, pre-2000, 2015
2014: I know I read this a long time ago, but I recently bought it on audio and we started listening to it again. I don't remember the story at all, but the part to which we have listened so far is somewhat predictable in the grand scheme of stories. I think I will keep this for when DH and I road trip together as it is a book that he will enjoy more than my normal girly novels.

2015: We finally finished this audiobook - we haven't been on a trip together in awhile - and it was good to finally co
I listen to audiobooks sometimes. This was one of those times. The "audible" book was read by Frank Muller and I thought it was done well, if a little dry. It is easy to listen to. The voices for different characters are also handled fine. This was Nevil Shute's final novel, finished before his death and left to his daughter to publish. Shute is one of my favorite authors. This one seems to be a favorite book among his readers, although I'd rate it as a lesser work. I have yet to read one I disl ...more
Wonderful! I picked this up on sale not knowing anything about the Author, just that it was ranked pretty high. Great way to spend $3.99.

This book wasn't necessarily my thing, and at times there was a little too much geeking out over mechanical details. But I didn't care. I quickly powered through those portions and it just added to the character images in my head.

The story line was awesome. In some ways it reminded me of a precursor to Life of Pi or Unbroken, but more simple in its telling. The
Nov 29, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Peregrinations
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was considering re-reading Shute's "On the Beach" but decided it was a bit too depressing. Looking around, I discovered that the man actually wrote other books. (Duh!)

Thoreau said: 'Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.'

With this gem of a book, Shute replies that some men live unassuming, quiet little lives until called upon to do otherwise. His character, Keith Stewart, is an ordinary, somewhat boring (ok...very boring) man who undertakes w
Keith Stewart is a simple man who loves to make miniature engines. He writes for a magazine called the Miniature Mechanic and is very popular with the readers because he always answers their questions. His sister and brother-in-law died on a coral reef in French Polynesia during a hurricane, and Keith and his wife Katy are left with their 10 year old niece. Before the sister left, Keith helped his brother-in-law to put a small box into the concrete under the sailboat engine. He learned from the ...more
Caroline Taggart
It had never occurred to me to read Nevil Shute until a friend recommended this and I am more grateful than I can say. He was an engineer by training and his writing style reflects the no-nonsense, meticulous approach that he must have taken to his work. But it works admirably in this book.

Keith Stewart makes and writes about miniature machines and has a dedicated following all over the world. But he himself has never been out of England and barely out of Ealing. Then his wealthy sister and her
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Goodreads Librari...: Trustee from the Toolroom 5 24 Jul 22, 2012 11:58PM  
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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.
More about Nevil Shute...
A Town Like Alice On the Beach Pied Piper The Far Country Requiem for a Wren

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