Before reading this book, my only exposure to the works of Nevil Shute had been watching the delightful movie A Town Like Alice. I usA 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 a rare vacation to go to the Shute convention in Seattle and he wanted me to come along. So this week I started reading this book.
And now, down to the review:
From the size of Shute's books, I figured that it was going to be a light read, amusing probably, but not very engaging. Boy was I wrong! I just finished Trustee From the Tool Room and I'm going to have to start my next Shute book right away. His writing style is concise - he wastes no words and yet manages to describe things thoroughly. His characters are engaging and believable. I found them to be intelligent, with their own strengths and weaknesses. It's rare to find an author who can ensure that though his character's may know a lot in a field of their interest (engineering in this case) it does not mean that they know everything on the subject and are super-human like most books. All characters are treated with sympathy for personal faults, understanding of their limitations and pride for their strengths. Shute is quick to point out that there are many ways to overcome obstacles, and the simple act of doing your job professionally, competently and courteously can have long reaching effects on other people and help in a time of need.
Keith Stewart is the main character - a sensible average British citizen who has never gone far in life in either distance or career. However, though he has little money and little experience outside his town and job he's quite happy. When his wealthy sister and brother-in-law ask him to take care of their daughter for a few months while they settle into a new home in Canada - he readily agrees. When they're both killed in a horrible accident, Keith finds himself the new Trustee of their fortune until his niece is old enough to claim it. When he finds out the fortune has mysteriously gone missing, cash strapped Keith must travel halfway across the world to try and recover his niece's fortune for her - no matter the danger.
The story is written in the British fashion, understated but highly enjoyable. Even the parts that go into engineering difficulties are accessible to the average reader. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys relaxing reads about average people forced out of their comfort zone. Not the fastest paced novel out there, but the way Shute writes, he managed to keep me interested even so....more