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Beyond the Black Stump

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  509 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
The expression “beyond the black stump” refers to the deepest, darkest wilds of the Australian outback, the setting for Nevil Shute’s novel of a romance tested by cultural difference. Stanton Laird is an American geologist sent to hunt oil in a remote part of Western Australia. There he befriends the highly unconventional Regan family, the rough-and-tumble owners of a mill ...more
Paperback, 291 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by House of Stratus (first published 1956)
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Community Reviews

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Curtis
Jul 28, 2010 Curtis rated it really liked it
This is a great book with strong characters that are allowed the time and pace to develop properly. It takes place in both America and Australia and tracks the story of an Oregonian (Stanton) and an Australian (Mollie) as they come together and try their hand at love. It is not a sappy love story though - rather it deals with the trials, misunderstandings and controversy that are inherent in close relationships between people who physically come from worlds apart.
Flyss Williams
3.5 Oilman Stan Laird comes to the Australian outback from small town Oregon to assess the areas potential for oil. He meets and falls in love with a ranchers illegitimate daughter and asks her to marry him, can they overcome their cultural differences enough to make a happy life together?
Clare Smith
Sep 13, 2014 Clare Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read all of Shute's books when I was a teenager, however this one was missing from the set. Now I found it online ($45 phew) in order to complete the set that my parents are going to pass on to me now some 35 years along.

It was a real surprise to read this final novel and thoroughly enjoy it. I was concerned that this many years on I may no longer have found the style or content relevant. But the memory of the authors other works was not disappointed. The story itself is at face value one of t
...more
Lori
Jan 30, 2009 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nevil Shute does a wonderful job of exploring Australia from a British point of view and examines the post WWII lifestyles of both America and Australia with a unique perspective that always interests me. This story focuses on a young man raised in a small town in Oregon and his time spent on the Australian frontier. The comparison/contrast between what America now (or at least mid 20th century) considers "wild country" and the vast "lunatic" frontier of Australia is interesting. He does a beaut ...more
Daniel
Dec 03, 2008 Daniel rated it really liked it
I love stories about the taming of Australia. Beyond the Black Stump satisfies this craving, describing life in frontier sheep grazing portions of the country as seen from the eyes of an American geologist traveling there to explore for oil. The culture differences between his life and that of the people he meets is interesting and at times incredibly funny, although also sobering and sad as well. Shute does a good job telling the story and the book easily kept my interest throughout.

If you like
...more
Penina Sagadiev
Jan 03, 2016 Penina Sagadiev rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually summarise a book in a review. That's already been done by people better than me. What I will say is there is just something about this author that keeps me searching for more books by him. He isn't flashy. There isn't a lot of action. These aren't that type of book. These books were written long a go and take place in often remote places, yet they are relatable. He creates these characters that are real and you get invested in them. A Town Like Alice and On The Beach were two oth ...more
Natalie
Apr 18, 2009 Natalie rated it really liked it
The way the author explored the notion of how different cultures judge outsiders made for a terrific read and some pretty humorous situations. The ways the author was able to illustrate the difference between progress and development was intriguing too. The story of the taming of the kangaroo mouse must have started out true somewhere! The picture of that creature and it's master is too detailed to be made up! Somwhere, at some time there must have been a man who really did mince up bugs and che ...more
Deborah Pickstone
3.5 stars

A tale of cultures clashing and love dividing rather than conquering all. Told in Shute's characteristic and engaging prose with excellent characterisation. Despite the fact that I didn't actually like either of the main characters I found it no hardship to read to the end. I think he was one of the strongest novelists of his generation.
Vikas Datta
Nov 05, 2016 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well-crafted and bringing out cultural contrasts...
Ray Noyes
Mar 21, 2017 Ray Noyes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Shute's finest I'd say. As usual his character painting is simple but clear, their interactions complex but resolved. The clash of the characters' values and their life's aims is the backbone of the book and offers sincere food for thought. A touching and memorable story.
David Kenrick
Jun 10, 2015 David Kenrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beyond the Black Stump is a slow-paced but surprisingly good romance which deals with the problems caused by variable cultural assumptions. It is not, however, simply some hackneyed novel of forbidden love but an altogether more ordinary affair with a distinctly colonial twist.

The central protagonists are Mollie Regan and Stanton Laird. Regan is a young, illegitimate girl from 'beyond the black stump' - Australian parlance for the middle of nowhere - she lives on an enormous and remote sheep ran
...more
Larry Piper
Rather a disappointment. Nevil Shute has become one of my favorite authors, but it appears that he lost his way in his last couple of books. It would seem that in his later years, he became so infatuated by his adopted home country of Australia that he couldn't see any of its faults. To support this infatuation, he seems to have had a need to villainize England (A Far Country) and the U.S. ( Beyond the Black Stump) so as to make himself feel better about his having emigrated to the Antipodes.

Th
...more
Kevin Findley
Dec 29, 2016 Kevin Findley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nevil-shute
This is one of my favorite Nevil Shute books. The author easily moves the story from the US to Australia and back again. Not an easy thing to do as so many writers find.

The generational and social differences between the couple in love, their families and countries were deftly handled. Shute pulled back the curtain a bit on all of it without running down either country. The ending was a bit startling, but made perfect sense after just a moment of reflection.

As a side note, this Ballantine editi
...more
Alexander Polsky
Oct 02, 2014 Alexander Polsky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not one of Shute's better known works, but of particular interest to me, as he compares two places I know well-- outback Australia and Eastern Oregon.

Its very much an anachronism as a book, not least because as he describes a drive out along the Columbia River, he's able to describe it without the last dams.

But beyond travelogue, the book is a window into the mind of a Brit in the mid-1950s, contemplating American power. This book is worth reading for ideas that are now gone; Shute was an engine
...more
Delilah
May 24, 2011 Delilah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beyond The Black Stump is by my sister’s favourite author, Nevil Shute. If you like Steinbeck, you’ll probably like Shute.

This author, who started life out as an engineer, writes books about foreigners and their interactions with Australians and Australia around the 1950s. As a English immigrant to Australia at the time, he has a talent for capturing the sensibilities and curiosities of Australia of the time, and expresses a true fondness for his new country, often in comparison to an England h
...more
JayeL
Mar 20, 2008 JayeL added it
Shelves: pre-2000, own, audio, classics, 2015
Pre-2000 reading: This is an interesting view of two people in love who have to bridge the gap between cultures. Despite feeling that 'Western' cultures aren't that different, differences abound.

2015 reading: as I read this book again, after many years of not reading it, and reading it right after The Far Country, I found that there was an element of propaganda in it. That impression turned out to be an element of the story that didn't reveal itself until the end. I would have, again, liked more
...more
Gerald
Stanton Laird is a young man who got in some trouble as a youth but overcame it quite well. He went on to become a successful geologist for an oil company. This necessitated his leaving his much-loved, small hometown in eastern Oregon.

Following a 3-year assignment of oil exploration in Saudi Arabia, he goes next to a similarly desolate assignment trying to locate oil in the very sparsely populated area in the northern part of of West Australia on a million-acre sheep station. Here he falls deep
...more
Al
Aug 19, 2015 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young, but experienced, American petroleum engineer is sent to a remote site in Western Australia to run seismic tests for a possible oil well. He is befriended by a rough-hewn sheep farming family and its eligible young daughter. So far, the book follows Mr. Shute's familiar plot track. Along the way, though, Mr. Shute is scattering hints that the final resolution may be different this time, and so it is.
The novel is one of a group that calls on Mr. Shute's Australian experiences for setti
...more
F
Mar 08, 2016 F rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable. Very cleverly planned and thought out, so although it is a fairly light-weight romance/adventure story, the choice of a hero from small town America who is a geologist, working first in Arabia and then in Western Australia, juxtaposed with a heroine from the deepest outback of Western Australia gives opportunity for all sorts of comtrasts and interest. I found the characters convincing. I like his good use of technical detail, enough to let you feel he knows what he is talk ...more
Thomas Womack
Jun 04, 2016 Thomas Womack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a surprisingly good book; it's very much a period piece now, so also valuable in letting you see what someone writing in the mid-fifties and in his own mid-fifties thought of both America and Australia at the time ... clearly an enormous nostalgia for the frontier, though it's not completely obvious from the book that Shute had been living in Melbourne for five years since it was written. The approach to the many well-formed characters is complicated and, while judgmental, judgmental in ...more
Nicole Gagnon
May 05, 2015 Nicole Gagnon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love this author, this is the fourth book I read of his. This book was good, you really get a sense of what life was like in northwest Australia not quite a century ago. In addition to discovering a bit more about the history of Australia, I really enjoyed seeing Mollie and Stan discover who they each were as their relationship changed. I won't be a spoiler but I really was not expecting that ending. All I will say is that I did really enjoy seeing Mollie figure out what sort of a life she wante ...more
Scilla
Mar 17, 2014 Scilla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stanton Laird works for an oil company as a geologist. Recently in Arabia, he has a month vacation at home in Oregon before he is sent to Western Australia to check out a very remote site for the possibility of oil. Stanton is very fond of his family and hometown Hazel, and he and his best friend (who shared everything including girl friends during high school) go deer hunting with bow and arrow. In the Australian outback, he meets Molly at the sheep ranch on the property where he is working. Mo ...more
Jim Puskas
As Nevil Shute's stories go, this one is about middling. Parts of it reminded me of the latter portion of "A Town like Alice" but it doesn't measure up to that one. It lacks the great characters of "Trustee from the Toolroom" and the suspense of "The Chequerboard" but if you enjoy Shute as I do, you'll probably find this one a good read. If you're not really a Shute fan, you may want to give it a pass.
Nicole
Feb 17, 2010 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A hard book for me to figure out. Intellectually, I knew the scenes connected meaningfully, but emotionally, it was a string of scenes that I could never really get interested in. Only one character seemed to experience any growth, and she was not the protagonist, leaving me to wonder what the point of basing a story around him was.
Nancy
it is a story of two frontiers; western US & West Australia. American geologist,Stanton Laird, working for the Topeka Exploration Co.meets Mollie Regan & they fall in love. They discover the local customs & free way of life Mollie has led clashes with her prospective in-laws when she goes to visit them in Orego & caused a serious barrier.
Samantha
Nothing really happened, but I still love Shute's writing. And there was an amazing line where the female MC/love interest was aghast that a man should have to "waste his time" doing his own laundry and ironing. Ah, sexism.
Robin
May 17, 2015 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Nevil Shute's work. This one had an Oregon connection in the story, which I really enjoyed, but it wasn't my favorite Shute novel of the ones I've read so far.
James
Apr 03, 2012 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick easy read. An insight in to Australia and America in the 50's. I enjoyed this, though some of Shute's other books are better
Susie Brekke
Oct 18, 2007 Susie Brekke rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just thought it was a bit depressing...
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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...

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