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In the Wet

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  601 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Originally published in 1953, IN THE WET is Nevil Shute's speculative glance into the future of the British Empire. An elderly clergyman stationed in the Australian bush is called to the bedside of a dying derelict. In his delirium Stevie tells a story of England in 1983 through the medium of a squadron air pilot in the service of Queen Elizabeth II.
Paperback, 344 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by House of Stratus (first published 1953)
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The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughA Town Like Alice by Nevil ShuteTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenCloudstreet by Tim WintonPicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Best Books Set in Australia
85th out of 587 books — 392 voters
A Town Like Alice by Nevil ShuteThe Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughIn a Sunburned Country by Bill BrysonOn the Beach by Nevil ShutePicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Books Set in Australia
40th out of 545 books — 158 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan 19, 2011 Jenne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This was a weird one. Most of the book takes place in 1983 (it was written in '53) but it took me little while to figure that out, since apparently nothing had really changed in 30 years except that airplanes go faster, and England is still under rationing, and Australia has a new political system. (Multiple voting, where you can earn extra votes for various things like education or experience overseas or raising a family)

This is basically what I call a hobbyhorse novel (like the Da Vinci Code o
M.A. McRae
Aug 22, 2014 M.A. McRae rated it really liked it
'In the Wet' has an unusual plot. It is part set in the Australian Outback, 1950s, and written from the point of view of a Church of England priest. A dying alcoholic tells him a story of his life - except that his life is in the future, maybe a future life. It is a story of involvement in high affairs, when England has become a socialist state, grey and dreary, and her queen finds her life plagued by hostile politicians. She decides that the thriving former colonies might be a better place to l ...more
Jul 28, 2012 Owen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australia, fiction
Although some of Nevil Shute's work is created using a fairly large canvas (one thinks of "A Town Like Alice," more than any other), most of his novels are simple tales about everyday life. The trick, or real art, which they demonstrate, is in showing us a slice of that ordinary world we think we all know, as though it were the most normal thing in the world, and then bringing out the oddity that is never far below the surface. So "In the Wet," one of his more imaginative novels, takes us bit by ...more
Jim Puskas
Aug 18, 2015 Jim Puskas rated it liked it
Every so often, Shute liked to spin one of his favorite "tricks", suddenly shifting from one situation into an entirely different time and place, with his main characters transported in some supernatural or strangely spiritual manner. He did that very skillfully in "An Old Captivity" and "Lonely Road" and again here. As long as the reader is willing to suspend disbelief and just go along for the ride, it can be very effective. In this case, he over-reaches by speculating on a future of his own i ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Graceann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nevil Shute fans
Shelves: classics
I did something with this novel that I haven't done since I was in high school - I went to alternate sources for explanation of what I was reading because I got lost. I was reading one story, then suddenly I was reading another, and it took me quite a while to figure out how I'd been transitioned.

This is one of many things that Nevil Shute does for me; he keeps me on my toes and pushes me out of my comfort zone. The novel starts with the rather simple (and, at the outset, rather dull) story of
Feb 08, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it
I really liked some parts of this book. It was a fairly good story, some adventure, politics, romance, and humor. Really the only thing I didn't like about the book was that it felt like the author basically made up the romance (which is probably the main thread throughout the story) in order to foist his political opinions on the reader. I am fine with authors having political views and changing the politics in their stories to reflect that, it just felt a little clunky here. Overall a good sto ...more
Vikas Datta
Nov 11, 2015 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A magnificent display of imagination and style in the way the narrative switches from the present to the future and returns seamlessly... makes a few key points about British politics and commonwealth relations that seems uncannily prescient but then Mr Shute's storytelling capabilities were never in doubt...
Jun 04, 2016 JayeL rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-2000, own, audio, print, 2016
2016: I have previously read the print. I bought the audio and this is the first time I am listening to the audio. This story is one of his more confusing, because the transitions are a little bit abrupt and the flashbacks are longer so there were a few moments where I lost where I was because of the abrupt transition. The audio is easier to follow.

The most interesting part of this book are the political aspects. This is a book written in the 1950s, taking place in the 1980s. It is very interes
Oct 02, 2015 Al rated it really liked it
Taking off from a contemporary (1953) setting in the Australian outback, ITW's main plot line is a look 30 years into the future through the fevered dreams of a dying sheepherder and a pastor who is attending him. This future contains a British Commonwealth with a depopulated and impoverished Great Britain, and flourishing states of Australia and Canada. An exhausted Queen Elizabeth struggles to keep the Commonwealth together, trying to reconcile the envious British with the vigorous "colonial" ...more
Feb 22, 2014 Skjam! rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Nevil Shute fans, alternative voting wonks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Kenrick
Jan 18, 2016 David Kenrick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
*spoilers follow*

In the decades after the Second World War, thousands of British men and women emigrated to 'the colonies' - usually Australia, South Africa, and Canada - as a way to escape the dreariness of post-war austerity for a whole gamut of reasons. Nevil Shute was one such person. Like some others, he was fleeing his homeland because of concern about the direction the country was going in under the post-war Labour government. What this government did was undoubtedly radical and the right
Jan 31, 2014 Scilla rated it really liked it
THis book is narrated by an old parish priest in outback Australia. He meets Stevie, who usually gets very drunk when he comes to town. They sort of become friends as the priest helps to take care of Stevie. The priest goes out through swollen rivers during the wet to the home where Stevie is living with a Chinese gardener when he hears Stevie is dying. The priest is suffering a relapse of his malaria while Stevie relates a tale of his life some 30 years in the future. It involves the British mo ...more
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
Very strange book. I would recommend it to people who are interested in reincarnation or who are into looking at books that in the story expressed prophetic (and some not so prophetic) visions of the future.

brief synopsis:

Written in 1952, In the Wet is situated mainly in England but starts out in Australia. The local parish priest goes out to an isolated house to attend to the dying of the local town drunk and ne'er do well named Stevie. (For some reason, the blurb on the bookcover gives his nam
Feb 05, 2010 Tobinsfavorite rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: most people
Recommended to Tobinsfavorite by: used book store shelf
I am a big fan of Nevil Shute. In a used book store, I always go to the S's to see if they have any novels I don't have yet. (As a result, I have a small stack of his works I haven't yet read.) It's hard to say "This is one of my favorites" because there aren't really any I don't like, but this is an entertaining, satisfying read with a bit of adventure, a bit of politics (albeit strange, un-American politics), a bit of race commentary, and a bit of romance. I read this many years ago and so may ...more
Stuart Taylor
I was glad to finish this book and that says it all really. First published in 1953 (I believe), this book is meticulously researched but very leisurely paced with plenty of repetitive padding. Written in the language of the time, its references to half-castes and boongs and abos are considered racially unacceptable today and the central character's nickname: "Nigger", underlines this. If you read this book therefore, you should do so in the spirit of its vintage and not become offended at expre ...more
Kevin Findley
As with Shute's other books, this one takes you right into the story within the first few pages. He carefully crafted the world of Father (Brother) Hargreaves, made you care about everyone involved and then dropped you into another world thirty years into the future. Then he makes you care even more about this cast of characters.

As with most speculative fiction, Shute got many details wrong, but his overarching theme and ideas on socialism and race relations were spot on, especially for a book w
Jul 29, 2013 Vivian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This book is just incredible. As I was reading the first half of the book, I was mystified by the timing/dating. I mentioned it to my sister who had recommended the book to me and her response was "just keep reading". So I did...until 1:00 in the morning (yeah, I could not put it down). (view spoiler) ...more
An interesting book with a beginning setting of very rural Queensland in northeast Australia. A newly assigned clergyman in the area is making his best effort to get to know "his very scattered flock." Among them is an old drunkard who is known as Pisspot Stevie. During "the wet," i.e., the monsoon rain season when the roads are impassable by vehicles, the clergyman is called to the bedside of a dying Stevie. After a harrowing journey on horseback with a nursing sister to get to him, the clergym ...more
May 23, 2015 Ren rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Like sex or spaghetti, even when not at his best, still pretty good

I love Nevil Shute. However, this is not one of his better offerings. For folks new to him, would recommend Round The Bend to start.
Jim Sterling
Feb 07, 2015 Jim Sterling rated it it was amazing
Lots to think about -- including multiple votes for citizens. Everybody gets a vote, but some get more than one. Read this engrossing tale to learn why. I have read this book =several= times since 1968!
Gery Lynch
Oct 25, 2015 Gery Lynch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amongst my Favourite Books. This book has a storyline that is pure Shute, Mainly about people but a hint of the supernatural. Charters are wonderful and world of his future was so realistic.
Colin Mitchell
Jan 23, 2013 Colin Mitchell rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I like Neville Shute and read this book in 2013 although it was published in 1953 and was about events happening in the 1980, at that time 30 years in the future. At first is was difficult to put the time scales in perspective having lived through the times. No mention of personal computers! The Queen has retained her residences and the Commonwealth has rather faded away as each member has become independent, there are no Royal residences in Australia, Canada nor Kenya and there was no third wor ...more
Jun 13, 2014 Juha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Juha by: John Pernetta
Shelves: fiction
This book was given to me by a good friend - an Englishman, I should add - and recommended highly. The story - and the story within the story, and their connections - was most interesting and engaging. And strange. I'm quite baffled by it all, as well as why my friend recommended it so strongly (I'll have to ask him when I next see him, which may be a while as we're on different continents).
Sep 07, 2016 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shute's best tale. An inspiration to truly speculative thought. On many planes. No pun intended.
Jan 06, 2009 Lori rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-the-world
I always enjoy this author. This book confused me because it was referring to things that happened in the 70's. I knew the author died in 1960 and that the original version of this was published in 1958, so I kept wondering if subsequent editions has been edited. As soon as I finished, there was a note from the author about "projecting 30 years into the future" with this novel he and explains why he did that. It would have clarified much for me if I had found that note at the beginning of the re ...more
Mar 31, 2010 Richard rated it liked it
A novel published in 1953. Takes place in England and Australia, with part of the story in the late 30s and some of it in the future 1970s. Shute excels in his descriptions and story line. It is not until the last chapter when all the loose ends come together. David, the protagonist, is a quarter aboriginal, yet rises to a level of personal pilot of the Queen of England. The story appears to move slowly but it did draw me in. I would recommend it but I liked some of his other novels better: A To ...more
not bad
Feb 15, 2012 Sue rated it liked it
Roger Hargreaves is an Anglican priest working in Landsborough, a remote district in Australia. The story is his account of what happened one year during the Wet Season.
I'd read this many years ago and only remembered one detail of the ending and nothing more. What I remembered did not spoil the story for me; it may actually have helped. The author seems to have a vast knowledge of planes, or else did extensive research. Well written and it pulled me along wanting to get to the end.
Stuart Mcgrigor
Feb 13, 2013 Stuart Mcgrigor rated it it was amazing
I read this one ages ago in my mid-teens. It was the first time I read a book where the author had an overt political agenda, and a wheel barrow to push.

Wrapping that all up as a piece of speculative fiction, and the creepy supernatural tie in between the events in the future and the here now, really rang a bell in an impressionable 17yo.

I've always thought this was the best of the 20 odd Shutes, although _On the Beach_, _A Town Like Alice_, and _Requiem for a Wren_ are other favourites.
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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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