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Round the Bend

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  673 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Tom Cutter is in love with airplanes and has been from his boyhood. He can remain in England, an employee in another man's aviation business, or he can set out on his own.

With little more than personal grit and an antique aircraft, Cutter organizes an independent flying service on the Persian Gulf. He sees opportunities everywhere, also dangers.

"In Cutter's growth from pro

Paperback, 396 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by House of Stratus (first published 1951)
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This reviewer cannot be objective when it comes to N. Shute. I love his work. I have all 22 of the books he wrote from 1920 to 1960. He is probably best known for On the Beach, a post nuclear war doomsday story. Popular at the peak of the Cold War. This story, however, is a great read. I find his work very intense. It is one of those kind of books that you'll be 50 pages into before you know it. I LOVE those kind of books. This is about a mystic in a modern world. Down to earth. Simple. Yet deep ...more
I confess I don't know how Nevil Shute does it. This novel, written about 1951, purports to be the autobiography of an airline entrepreneur after WWII. He starts in England with a single small plane and gradually builds an airfreight empire centered in Bahrain. He has no interests other than his business, and he achieves success by pluck, unremitting hard work, sinking every penny back into the business, and hiring the best people as mechanics, engineers, and pilots, even if they aren't white Eu ...more
Just finished rereading this one, and it's my favorite Shute novel and one of my favorite books of all time, notwithstanding the sexism of the era and the rather quaint and patronizing view taken of "Asiatics". For the time it was entirely enlightened.

Nevil Shute was a great writer and a wonderful person. Aviation in his time did for those few people who pursued it what the internet does in ours for everyone: makes the world into our own small neighborhood. Connie is one of my favorite characte
This was so totally lovely. I didn't even know it was actually a book about religion, or really, about God more than religion, thank goodness, because otherwise I probably wouldn't have thought I'd like it much. But I did. There's something I love about the just post-war novelists--this style was a bit similar to Jessica Mitford or Somerset Maugham, not in any tonal way, but in the sort of clipped dialog, and passages of very matter of fact description, and some of the lovely British slang of th ...more
John R.
Jan 18, 2008 John R. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: almost anyone
Nevil Shute is a great writer and much more subtle and seductive than might be expected. A plain-spoken man tells his life story which includes the story of his dealings with a life-long friend and a transcendent spiritual experience is the result. No one who has ever read the book on the basis of my recommendation has ever expressed disappointment.
My favorite Shute book. A no-nonsense engineer grapples with the disturbing possibility that his best airplane mechanic may in fact be an incarnation of the Messiah. Imagine Richard Bach’s “Illusions,” except not written by a drugged-up hippie. Now visualize “Atlas Shrugged," except not written by a fascist propagandist. Mix non-violently and you have this weird, compelling, unique fable about a man trying to reconcile Modernism with Mysticism, finding spiritual value in technical precision, and ...more
Jan 20, 2008 Yvor rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Vijay and Heather
Nevil Shute is one of my favorite authors. Round the Bend is an adventure/romance novel set in the first half of the 20th Century. It explores the themes of friendship, the early days of civil aviation, discrimination & prejudice, and how humanity might respond to a new Prophet or Manifestation were he to appear in the middle of the 20th century. My personal preference is the unabridged audiobook version. But Nevil Shute is not a difficult author to read and I am sure my friends would enjoy ...more
Mystical and magnificent - this book was real surprise to me. Post WW2, Shute is asking himself the fundamental questions of man's existence, through what starts off as an adventure story based on the life of a young Briton obsessed with aircraft. The other main character is a charismatic young man - half Russian and half Chinese - who is a skilled aircraft engineer. Shute and the characters he creates embark on what effectively becomes a search for religious enlightenment. One of them finds his ...more
Lynn Pribus
Not my favorite of Shute's which would probably be TOWN LIKE ALICE. Or ON THE BEACH. Both of those had characters who were emotional in complex, gripping life-and-death situations.

This one, other the other hand, involved Tom Cutter, a Brit whose main emotional ties were with aircraft from the time he was very young. The novel is rather like a tedious log of flying and buying various planes as he builds his own flying business in the Middle East and Asia from his home airfield of Bahrain -- an is
This is the fourth book of Nevil Shute that I have read. The three others being Pied Piper, A town like Alice and No Highway. Shute is a wonderful writer and story teller and his books are so intelligent and wise. As in many of his books, this one also revolves around airplanes and the aviation world. It is worth reading this book because it can give the reader an understanding of the world after the 2nd World War. The book was written in 1956 and it is incredible how things have changes in not ...more
Hugh Lambert
I have read every book by Mr. Shute and the screenplay I am aware of, and he remains my favorite author. I think this book is his best, and it remains my favorite book I have ever read.
Perhaps what I like best is that is seems the last kind of book a post-Victorian English Man would have written, especially one born into the “upper middle class”. He treats the "non-Europeans" like people, and not "wogs". He shows disdain for Europeans who do treat people like "wogs". As a wog myself I appreciate
Jeremy Neal
Very enjoyable in many ways, but not close to the extremely high standards of A Town Called Alice or On the Beach, both of which were amazing. On the Beach especially will probably stay with me forever, and I read it 25 years ago. Despite its shortcomings, Round the Bend, once again underlines an impression that Shute is underrated in the world of literature, since even on his worst day, he's a competent writer.

Round the Bend is the least engaging of his novels that I've read so far. The protago
This book was completely different from what I expected, even several chapters in. It starts out as a quaint book that shows the really weird way Europeans thought of the world and "Asiatics" just after World War II - the author is so 1940's/50's British in the language that he uses. But, somehow it turns into a story about how an ordinary, but good, man can become divine. It's a plausible scenario for what happened to other "prophets" in antiquity, but in a relatively modern setting.
Oliver Brown
I am a big, big, big fan of Nevil Shute and I think there is no one who can tell a story like he does. It seems to me that he is somewhat forgotten or neglected by todays readers(?).

Anyways, this book had all the features of a true Shute book and I got hooked pretty quick.

What stopped me from giving it 5 stars was that I found the main character Tom somewhat self-righteous (he kinda lacked flaws the way he portrayed himself and I like when they come out a bit rough, so I can relate...) and als
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things-without even realizing it! I have collected all of Shute's books over the years and have enjoyed reading them many times. This is his best. Tom Cutter sets out to make a living in the airplane business and is successful doing so in the Middle East. THe real story is Connie Shaklin, his chief mechanic and his development as a messianic figure and the prejudice he encounters to his message.
Norton Stone
No plot in the conventional sense, this reads like autobiography. Perhaps somewhere lurking beneath the layers there is a sub text on religious observance and the power it has to focus men's minds, for that is essentially the theme of a book that traces the rise of an entrepreneur in a small aviation business in Asia. It may have been written over 50 years ago in an era of 'boy's own' and discovery. but it retains even today the sense of wonder one has at worlds that are foreign. There is also i ...more
Edward Turbeville
A unusual, fascinating and even disturbing book. A highly enjoyable read.

Round the Bend is one book where you really should avoid spoilers. Specifically for the last page, which will turn many of your perceptions on their head and also cause you to rethink other things you have read.

The (non spoiler) plot follows the progress of aircraft pilot and engineer Tom Cutter who establishes a charter airline business in the Arabian Gulf, shortly after the second world war. This is a fascinating journey
Tom Burkhalter
An airplane mechanic and pilot goes to the Arabian Gulf to seek his fortune after World War II. He reunites with an old friend...who may be the next Enlightened One...who is also and airplane mechanic. This is a thought-provoking book by a writer whose work has influenced me in many ways.
This is a mesmerizing tale of East meets West. This is the second time I've read this book and I realized during this reading what a fantastic story-teller Mr. Shute was. I highly, highly recommend this book.
Muriel Schwenck
Fabulous read. About how a aeronautical mechanic with mystical leanings, spreads a philosophy across different Eastern religions that doing good mechanical work is also doing God's work.
If done to the best of one's ability, any work, whether humble sweeping or intricate mechanical engineering, is an offering to God and mankind.
The book also contains interesting detail of the day to day running of an air freight business based in the middle east, and it's expansion to the far east.
Both practical
Jenn Feldman
I really love this author but this book just never grabbed me. Initially I was invested...I loved the the story of Cutter growing up his early life in airplanes and his career. After he moves to Baharain and starts his business I still found it interesting, but it lost me when it went into the "mystical". I just never cared about the story after that. It just felt like one plane ride to the next all over Asia without much story. Unfortunately that part makes up half the book! Disappointed.
Pat Cummings
Nevil Shute himself thought Round the Bend was his best novel. The messiah-figure of this story is Shak Lin, a Western-educated Malayan aircraft mechanic, who begins life as a Bristish boy named Connie Shaklin. His message is the moral imperative of good maintenance of the machines upon which others’ lives depend:
...we are not like that, we engineers. We are men of understanding and of education, on whom is laid responsibility that men may travel in these aeroplanes as safely as if they were s
Matt Kelland
I'm going to give this five stars because I loved it. It's not a great book, and most people won't see the appeal at all, but it had so much in that just spoke to me.

I got this after hearing that it was the inspiration for Illusions, my favorite book ever. I can sort of see why people say that, but I don't see it that way. Round the Bend is about religion and airplanes, yes, but it's also about entrepreneurship, colonialism, guilt, and most of all, it's about how we're all basically human beings
Too bad that most people only know Nevil Shute for On The Beach. He wrote many other wonderful books, of which Round The Bend is one. Tom Cutter, a young Englishman, goes to the middle east right after World War II to start an airline freight charter service on a shoestring. Through luck and hard work, he succeeds beyond his expectations, and along the way reconnects with a Sino-Russian friend, Shak Lin, from his youth. Shak Lin is a crack airplane maintenance man, and goes to work for Cutter. ...more
I've become a great fan of Shute's work. Like many people, I read "On the Beach" while in high school, but now, 30+ years later, I'm reading other works, and I find he is amazing. "Beach" is certainly a classic, but it's also very dark, and in that sense not representative of Shute's work. The writing, settings and characters of Shute's novels seem so simple, and yet he brings them together with theme and conflict that I find spellbinding.
Great book! Tom Cutter grew up in a poor family in London. His parents got him a job in a garage, but he wanted to be involved with aviation. He volunteered at the flying circus and got money from tips parking cars. He learned to repair planes, and finally was hired as an apprentice and worked with a half Chinese, Connie, in a comedy act. When the circus closed, Tom went to work for an airplane company, Airservice. During the war, he went to their branch in Egypt. Afterwards, he bought a small p ...more
Lindsay Eaton
Nevil Shute is one of my all-time favourite authors – I have all of his books and I read one occasionally when I need a ‘comfort’ book. Great stories, extremely well-told, with wonderful characterisation, in that lovely simple old-fashioned style that is unequivocally Nevil Shute. I am travelling at the moment and haven’t got access to my bookcase, so I was delighted when I found ‘Round the Bend’ at my b&b. It’s the story of Tom Cutter - who runs an air charter service from Bahrein to the Fa ...more
Andy Klein
Not one of Shute's best. A bizarre tale about the relationship between an air transport entrepreneur and his friend and chief mechanic who becomes some sort of religious cult figure in the Middle East.
I haven't read this for over 40 years. I always remembered it as a first class read and was not disappointed. I would recommend it to anyone of a thoughtful disposition.
I can't remember who recommended this to me but it's a great read! The copy I got didn't have a cover, so I had no idea what it was going to be about when I picked it up, and I think that's a good way to read it.

Very broadly, it's about an English guy who starts up an air charter company in Bahrein in the late 40s, but that's also not what it's really about.

I think that at the time it was actually trying to be racially progressive, but nowadays it reads as Orientalist and colonialist and so on,
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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 Trustee from the Toolroom Pied Piper The Far Country

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“You cannot argue stupidity, you just have to accept it patiently as one of those things.” 46 likes
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