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A Town Like Alice

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  48,541 ratings  ·  3,447 reviews
Nevil Shute's most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.

Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean
Paperback, 359 pages
Published 2000 by House of Stratus (first published 1950)
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Theresa I know it's been a while since this questions was asked, but just in case anyone else is interested in knowing...I agree with all the others. The 1981…moreI know it's been a while since this questions was asked, but just in case anyone else is interested in knowing...I agree with all the others. The 1981 mini series with Bryan Brown is fabulous. Was lucky enough to get a used copy of the video from a close out sale at blockbuster many years ago. Worth so much more than the 99 cents I paid for it!(less)
Fiona Well said, Halford. All of Shute's novels were contemporary, and therefore are not influenced by modern sensibilities about racism. As said, he just w…moreWell said, Halford. All of Shute's novels were contemporary, and therefore are not influenced by modern sensibilities about racism. As said, he just wrote as the scene would have occurred. It is important to keep perspective on historical novels, acknowledge the history, and then be glad and determined that the present be different.(less)

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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia
”I suppose it is because I have lived rather a restricted life myself that I have found so much enjoyment in remembering what I have learned in these last years about brave people and strange scenes. I have sat here day after day this winter, sleeping a good deal in my chair, hardly knowing if I was in London or the Gulf country, dreaming of the blazing sunshine, of poddy-dodging and black stockmen, of Cairns and of Green Island. Of a girl that I met forty years too late, and of her life in that ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
There are books we can't be entirely rational about. For good or bad, they push our personal buttons, and we adore or detest them beyond their own merits.

A Town Like Alice is one of those books I love beyond reason. It contains courage, determination when the odds are against you, and taking action to change others' lives and the world around you for the better. It has some bittersweet moments, as well as a little bit of romance.

Nevil Shute based this 1950 novel on a WWII story he had heard abou
Diane S ☔
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first read by this author and it definitely won't be my last. Felt like this was two stories held together by the indefatiable Jean Paget, she certainly is a wonderful, well written character. Loved out narrator Noel, the older, gentlemanly London soliciter who administers the estate left to Jean from an uncle she little remembers. There are no gimmicks here, just some good, old fashioned story telling with the added bonus of one learning quite a bit about Malaya, though the events here were ...more
I couldn't tell you why I have resisted reading "A Town Like Alice" for so many years. But I did. Perhaps it is for the best whatever time it is we chose to land a particular book in our hands.

When I began to read Shute's book, I quickly fell into it. Noel Strachan is perhaps one of the most charming narrators I've encountered. Shute's use of the aging British Solicitor to unveil the story of Jean Paget drew me into the tale.

It was a simple enough matter. Strachan was hired to write the will an
I wanted to read this book for such a very long time. I don't know why. But finally it was done, and the tick on the Bucket List is happily added.

The story is based on a true story and therefore can be expected to be treated with utmost respect. Fact and fiction is entwined here in such a way that the distinction between tale and truth becomes impossible. However, the impact of the story is very real and very striking.

During WWII a group of English women were captured by the Japanese in the vi
Jean Paget was part of a group of women and children captured by the Japanese at the beginning of the invasion of Malaya. The men were sent to camps while their captors didn’t know what to do with the women and children. And so began the horrific march across Malaya, from one place to the next over miles and miles of dense jungle. During the walk, several of their party died, but Jean’s role as leader went well as she was the only person able to speak the local language. When the diminished grou ...more
Kevin Ansbro

Nevil Shute's sweeping novel sees privileged Englishwoman, Jean Paget, upended from her expat life in colonial Malaya by the invading Japanese, in WWII.
Paget somehow survives the brutality of an enforced death march through a jungle peninsula and eschews the home comforts of post-war England for altruistic work in far-flung climes (Malaya and the Australian outback).

This is a compelling read, despite it seeming a bit dated now, and Shute can be commended for creating a modern, ballsy femal
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A Town Like Alice reminds me so much of my favorite book, Mrs. Mike. Both catalog the difficulties and triumphs of living in remote areas. Both are historical. Both have a strong and engaging female protagonist who are in love with a man responsibly tied to a piece of land. Neither are fluffy Harlequins but make that pit in the bottom of your stomach churn with romance.

In short, I loved it. A Town Like Alice follows Jean Paget, a Scottish woman who was raised by her parents in Malay (now known a
Nandakishore Varma
This novel had been lying about my house in India for a long time: an old copy somebody abandoned (I couldn't even recognise the name written on the cover). Old houses gather books like they do other things (moth-eaten clothes, faded photographs and chipped chinaware). This vacation, it kept on intruding itself into my consciousness so I said What the hell! and finally decided to read it.

The book pulled me into it at the beginning. I liked the roundabout way Shute approached the story of Jean Pa
The author Nevil Shute left Britain and migrated to Australia because he believed that the advent of the Welfare State would cause people to go soft(view spoiler). Australia in his imagination was a decently virile and macho kind of place, and perhaps it is. In the way that popular fiction often is, this i ...more
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
‘Oh my word.'

What a confused book. A Town Like Alice has been such an intriguing read. The writing had an easy flow to it and the story was certainly gripping, even though this decidedly is a book of two halves.

The first half deals with the history of Jean Paget, in which we follow her to Malaya under the Japanese occupation. The second half takes us on Jean's journey to Australia, where she hopes to find out more about the man she whose death she believes she caused.

There is much to like about
Joy D
Published in 1950, this modern classic is a story of a smart and capable woman, Jean Paget, as told by her solicitor and trustee, Noel Strachan, from the 1930’s to 1950’s. She is the heir to a trust established by an uncle, which is administered by Strachan’s firm. He becomes not only her solicitor but her friend. She eventually tells him about her time in Malaya (now part of Malaysia) during WWII, when she and a group of women with children were marched hundreds of miles to various villages, ea ...more
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best "make lemonade out of lemons" books I've read. Warm, witty, real.
Told by Noel Strachan, an aging solicitor who is the trustee of Jean's estate, this story unfolds quietly.
Jean is a strong, delightful woman; just the sort needed in the development of a section of Queensland, Australia that was left as a ghost town after the gold rush ended.
Although a story of love and connectivity, this isn't a sappy love story. It's a solidly told story of a determined man & woman who want to
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This month's bookclub pick, A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute, starts in England with an aging attorney setting up a trust. Most of the story follows Jean Paget, who spent most of World War II in Malaya as a prisoner of the Japanese. The journey after the war is the best part. It's a slow journey to get there, but paid off. Warning - there are some racist comments in here that seem a bit harsh even in 1950.
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Legacy = A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
A Town Like Alice is a romance novel by Nevil Shute, published in 1950 when Shute had newly settled in Australia. Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman, becomes romantically interested in a fellow prisoner of World War II in Malaya, and after liberation emigrates to Australia to be with him, where she attempts, by investing her substantial financial inheritance, to generate economic prosperity in a small outback community—to turn it into "a town like Alice"
David Dennington
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am now posting a full review of this wonderful novel.

This book has to be one of the great love stories of all time. It is based on true events which happened in Sumatra during WW2 when a group of European women were forced by the Japanese to march for thousands of miles. This is one of Nevil Shute’s best loved novels and one which I read as a teenager. I admired Nevil Shute’s writing and his close association with aviation. He was a practical man with imagination and wrote about what he knew b
This is a very hard book to categorize or review. I read it almost 2 weeks ago, and have been trying to figure out how to convey it's essence. I won't be able to, but here goes:

A Town Like Alice starts off fairly dry, with a narrative by an old English attorney (who will continue to be the narrator of the story). He sets up the premise of why young Jean Paget, our heroine, comes to receive an inheritance. It's the early 1950's, and the old attorney and Jean form a friendship due to the fact that
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hana by: Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
At midnight on the night of December 8, 1941 men from the 8th Indian brigade stationed in northeastern Malaya came under heavy Japanese bombardment and by December 12 two beachheads and key airport had fallen to the Japanese. With astonishing speed, across jungles the British had wrongly assumed were impenetrable, the Japanese advanced down the Malay peninsula, pushing the British south until, on February 15, 1942, the British were forced to surrender the key southern port city of Singapore to J ...more
Apr 23, 2009 rated it liked it
This is an excellent book about what perseverance and vision can accomplish but most of all it's two love stories - the one between the two main characters of the story and the one in the mere telling of the story.
Book Concierge
Solicitor Noel Strachan tells the story of a young English woman for whom he is trustee. Her uncle left a significant estate, but felt it should remain in trust until her 35th birthday. Jean Paget was born in 1921 in Malaya when her father was employed there after World War I; however she returned to Southampton in 1932 to finish her education. When the elderly uncle dies in 1948, Strachan manages to track her down and over the course of several afternoon teas begins to get to know this remarkab ...more
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s a love story without any of the mushiness of a romance novel. My kind of story.

Written in 1950, Shute heard of the death march of eighty Dutch women prisoners by the Japanese.
Although he got many of the facts wrong about the prisoners he wrote a compelling novel, a love story between Jean Paget and Joe Harman. Another man Noel, who loved Jean, narrates the story.

The latter half of the book centers on the love story between Jean and Joe and is exquisitely written and well constructed. This
Jeanette (Again)
What Nevil Shute may lack in eloquence he makes up for by providing the particulars that bring to life a distant place and time.
This is a love story, but not a romance. There's no sex, no sappiness, no gasping or google eyes. Just a lot of hardship, hard work, and, most notably, hope.

Jean Paget and Joe Harman meet in Malaya during World War II. She is British, he Australian, and both are prisoners of the Japanese. Joe sacrifices all to provide a little food for Jean's bedraggled group of women
Angela M
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
***********Spoiler Alert**********

When we first meet Jean Paget , she appears as a quiet, unassuming young woman , who has suddenly inherited a large sum of money.
Jean's story gradually unfolds as she tells of the terrible ordeal she suffered through on a death march in Malaya , at the hands of the Japanese during WW II . It is then that we discover that she has guts, heart and smarts .
As the story proceeds , we learn just how courageous and savvy , she really is . After going back to Malaya to
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A Town like Alice by Nevil Shute.

" Nevil Shute's most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War Two to the rugged Australian outback"

Having read the blurb on this novel I was really looking forward to reading this story as it was described as "Entertaining" and "Dramatic" but unfortunately for me I neither found the book Dramatic or entertaining and really could only be pushed to describing it as a pleasant read that is neith
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Story--great; writing--terrible. That pretty much sums it up for me. The author took interesting characters and concepts and made them as dull as possible by telling it through the eyes of the lawyer. I was constantly frustrated by that feeling of being removed from the characters and the action. I wanted it to be so much more vivid. If this had been written first person from Jean's perspective, it would have made a world of difference.
Karren  Sandercock
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-reads
In 1941, Jean Paget is a young Englishwoman working and living in Panong Malaya, she's one of 32 women and children who are captured by Japanese army when they invaded Malaya and they have no idea what to do with them?
They are told to start walking to a camp, they have a few Japanese soldiers as an escort and no idea where they are going! They set off the next morning, but the women are not dressed or wearing appropriate shoes to walk long distances and are also very unfit. At the beginning of
When the opening sentence in a book includes the words "he was riding in the Driffield point-to-point" I can say my interest was piqued! Driffield is about 20 miles from where I live and I know it well.
So I started this one with a smile and wondered where we were going...
We went a long long way from that small Yorkshire town..
Jean Paget our main protagonist was working in Malaya at the time the Japanese arrived during WW2 . The Japanese army took many prisoners including Jean and 31 other wome
Cassio Queiros
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics-romance
Oh, what a lovely book. It's funny, sometimes sad but always inspiring and never insipid.
And Miss Jean Paget, the main character, is irresistible.
Congratulations to that gifted writer, Mr. Nevil Shute (1899-1960).
And now, where is my copy of "East of Eden"? Oh, it's over there! Here we go, C.R.
Lara Maynard
WWII POWs in Malaya; alligator shoes and ice cream in rural Australia

A Town Like Alice is a "bonza" book (as one of its main characters, Joe Hardman of Australia, would say) about two love stories, two adventures and two remarkable characters inspired by a real-life man and woman who displayed remarkable bravery during WWII. Nevil Shute gives these two people new fictional lives, and as Joe and Jean they are inspirationally resilient as prisoners of war in Japanese-occupied Malaya and afterwards
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Shute fans
Page 38:
Kuala means the mouth of a river.

Page 56:
"People who spent the war in prison camps have written a lot of books about what a bad time they had,"..."they don't know what it was like, not being in a camp."

This book was originally published as "The Legacy".

This is the story of Jean Paget, a Scottish woman, who was captured together with 80 women and children by the Japanese during World War II in Malaya, when they have been forced to walk through the jungle trails for more than 1200 miles.

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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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“I know you've taken risks to do these things. Do Please be careful."
"Don't worry about me," he said. "You've got enough troubles on your own plate, my word. But we'll come out all right, so long as we just keep alive, that's all we got to do. Just keep alive another two years, till the war's over.”
“She looked at him in wonder. "Do people think of me like that? I only did what anybody could have done."
"That's as it may be," he replied. "The fact is, that you did it.”
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