Stuart's Reviews > A Town Like Alice

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
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's review
Apr 18, 12

really liked it
Read in April, 2012

A very optimistic book about a young woman who comes through wartime horrors, finds love, and transforms a desperate town in Australian cattle country into an attractive place like Alice (Springs). Jean Paget is respectful of the Malays she lives amongst, is quietly positive in captivity, and imaginative and unconventional in transforming the lives of people in the outback. Written in 1950 it celebrates a sense that the past can be redeemed (she does all this on the back of an inheritance, managed by the crusty but human narrator, a solicitor) and the present rebuilt. Post-war optimism, perhaps, with a gently attractive feminism and cultural sensitivity. A well-crafted tale.

I wasn't sad to finish the book, as I often am with the best ones, but my interest never flagged, despite the lack of any real bad guys or even serious opposition to the daring of Jean Paget. Interestingly, even the very worst deed the book describes is defused when we are shown inside the mind of the perpetrator. The book allows no hatred, no easy division into friends and enemies.

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