Mary Lou's Reviews > A Town Like Alice

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
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Oct 09, 11

bookshelves: 2011
Read in October, 2011

Nevil Shute’s novel A Town Like Alice is an old-fashioned romance, historical fiction that is informative enough about World War II, Scotland, Britain and Australia to boost it into worthwhile pleasure reading. A bonus for women is that Shute’s female protagonist is independent, creative, and adventurous. She attracts the main male characters with her spirit and personality although her looks are a plus and her brain secures their admiration.

The story begins with a woman Jean Paget and her solicitor Noel Strachan getting acquainted when she comes into an inheritance. It goes on to tell how Japanese soldiers march a Jean and other of British women and children around Malaysia for seven months because no one really knows what to do with them. During this time, Jean, the only unmarried woman, becomes one of the leaders and she develops a friendship with an Australian male prisoner Joe Harman who befriends her group. The story ends in Australia with Jean developing a small outback community in Australia, making it more like the town Alice Springs where businesses flourish.

Strachan narrates the novel and Shute’s prose uses Scottish and Australian idioms and slang and a distinctively British world view that imparts cultural in a charming manner. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
A forced march of women by the Japanese did take place during World War II, but the women were Dutch, not British, and the march was in Sumatra, not Malaya.


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