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Round the Bend

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  912 Ratings  ·  86 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

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Paperback, 396 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by House of Stratus (first published 1951)
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Tim
Sep 24, 2008 Tim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-favs
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
Jon
Jul 17, 2009 Jon rated it really liked it
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
Tatiana
Jul 09, 2007 Tatiana rated it it was amazing
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
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Chrisl
Sep 05, 2012 Chrisl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Using multiple rereads as criteria for favorite novelists, Nevil Shute is easily my most liked. Set in the years after WWII, written then, it provides useful perspective on the Middle East.

Here's a quote about one of the minor characters :

"Dwight was an American, a soldier of fortune by profession. Wherever there is trouble in the world the Dwights of all nations foregather. There are not very many of them, thirty or forty perhaps, and they are all supremely competent men because because the ot
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Roz Morris
Sep 13, 2015 Roz Morris rated it really liked it
Shelves: love-and-loss
There's something about Nevil Shute's prose that is quite beguiling. It's not poetic or florid; more it's a quality of the way he scrutinises the emotions of his characters. His narration is cool, but much lies under the surface. The usual mood is reserve, endurance. But under that quiet exterior there is turbulence indeed.

The narrator of Round The Bend is Alan Cutter, an aircraft engineer, pilot and entrepreneur who starts an air freight business in Bahrain. The story is the account of his frie
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Charlotte
Mar 23, 2010 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Peter
Jan 18, 2015 Peter rated it it was amazing
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
Stuart
Apr 13, 2008 Stuart rated it it was amazing
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
John R.
Jan 18, 2008 John R. rated it it was amazing
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.
Phil
Mar 06, 2017 Phil rated it liked it
First of all, I'd like to say that, had it been available to me to give this novel a 65-70% rating, rather than having to decide between 60 and 80% then that's what I would have done. It's a bold book - all the bolder given its historical context - and in common with all Shute's work its examination of how human beings can live decently, faced with extraordinary circumstances, is thought-provoking and involving. It tells a good story too. Its weakness really lies with a naivety, or overoptimism, ...more
Yvor
Jan 03, 2008 Yvor rated it really liked it
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
Vikas Datta
Nov 04, 2015 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fascinating... the best rationale of religion as a reason for diligence and pride in one's work, and above all, the tale of a messianic figure who really inspires but never gets swept away by the adulation he commands. But the narrator is no less a hero, for his diligence and openness, which is remarkable for the time he is in... A grand narrative of the changing postwar world and one of the best works of this master story-teller...
Hugh Lambert
Aug 02, 2013 Hugh Lambert rated it it was amazing
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
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Lynn Pribus
Jul 26, 2013 Lynn Pribus rated it it was ok
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
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Taly
Jun 29, 2011 Taly rated it liked it
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
Gwenyth
Aug 08, 2015 Gwenyth rated it it was amazing
I picked up an old hardback edition of this book for about fifty cents at a local book fair in Oakland about 45 years ago, having no idea what joy this author would be bringing me in the years to come. Like all of Nevil Shute's books, it is a quick, thoroughly engrossing read. On the surface simply the story of an airplane mechanic and pilot, it is also a reworking of the Jesus story -- something I am glad I didn't know in the beginning, as that might have put me off reading it. The value of the ...more
James
Feb 08, 2013 James rated it it was amazing
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.
Alice
Dec 09, 2013 Alice rated it really liked it
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.
Tom Burkhalter
Mar 28, 2012 Tom Burkhalter rated it it was amazing
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.
Kim
May 18, 2009 Kim rated it it was amazing
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.
Edmund Bloxam
Mar 21, 2017 Edmund Bloxam rated it did not like it
A Lesson In Taking Advantage of 'Foreigners' and How To Use Religion to Manipulate People.

This book is so matter-of-fact, I will write my review as much like it as possible. It is a first person book. There is virtually no description at all. There is only the story. It is a story about a person starting an aviation company in the Middle East. Somewhere early on, somebody dies, but there's no emotion in this book either, so there we go. It just happened. Much of it reads like a travel itinerary
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Abby mamacos
May 10, 2017 Abby mamacos rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Another winner!
Pat Cummings
May 22, 2014 Pat Cummings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
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Matt Kelland
Aug 10, 2012 Matt Kelland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-time-faves
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
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Lenny Husen
Sep 21, 2016 Lenny Husen rated it liked it
This is my least favorite of Shute's book so far, and the fifth I've read.
The plot was slow going and the ending was severely disappointing to me. Would have given the book 4 stars if Shute hadn't blown the ending so badly.
I won't spoil it for you, but will just say that I needed things to work out better for the main character, Tom, in order to have the novel be satisfying and for the story to have any meaning to me.

Good points: well-written, and SO interesting to read about the Persian Gulf i
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Gerald
Another wonderful novel by Nevil Shute.

From a humble beginning when he is 14 years old working as a clown in an aerial circus, Tom Cutter soon learns everything about maintaining the airplanes and eventually to fly them. During World War II he finds himself working as a civilian in Egypt helping keep all the British airplanes flying.

Following the war he has saved enough to buy a small Fox-Moth airplane. After this purchase and with his recently acquired knowledge of "the East," Tom begins a car
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Jeremy Neal
Jan 27, 2015 Jeremy Neal rated it liked it
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
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Edward Turbeville
May 31, 2014 Edward Turbeville rated it it was amazing
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
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Norton Stone
Aug 18, 2014 Norton Stone rated it liked it
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
Al
Aug 28, 2013 Al rated it really liked it
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
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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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“You cannot argue stupidity, you just have to accept it patiently as one of those things.” 66 likes
“You can only do a thing for the first time once, and that goes for falling in love.” 2 likes
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