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Trustee from the Toolroom

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  2,339 Ratings  ·  293 Reviews
When his sister's boat is wrecked in the Pacific, Keith Steward becomes the trustee for his little niece. In order to save her from destitution he has to embark on a voyage in a small yacht in inhospitable waters.
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by Queens House (first published 1960)
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Oh my, I did like this. It is light, but cute and fun and will make you smile. I certainly do recommend it.

So what is this about? On the surface it is about a Mr. Ordinary, an unpretentious little guy, but he is honest and hardworking. He is kind. He is happy with little. He doesn't need a big fancy house or a flashy job or fancy clothes. It is an adventure story too. Travel on airplanes and boats - a trip that you would not imagine!

There is a peculiar characteristic to this book. The details.
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, shute
A 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
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Peregrinations
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is my second favorite Nevil Shute story, after "A Town Like Alice."

My Dad flew full-sized airplanes and sailplanes, and also model airplanes; especially small rubber-band powered "Peanut" scale airplanes. He was known among the world-wide model airplane community as the "Ol' Professor" for the informative quality he incorporated into his numerous scale model airplane designs and instructions.

My Dad and Keith Stewart were so alike that many of his friends would point out the similarity betwe
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenne by: Liz Hildreth
Shelves: favorites, logistics
I think the reason I liked this book so much, is that like Remainder, it's a book about logistics. A very complicated thing needs to happen (In this case, a mild-mannered engineer who has never left England needs to get to a tiny island near Tahiti) and the book is about how people find creative solutions to get it done. For some reason, I am completely fascinated by this kind of story. Maybe it's all the years I spent playing "initiative games" at camp?

This is not the best book ever written. Th
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
The #9 bestseller from 1960 took me completely by surprise. The title invoked boredom and also made little sense. But On The Beach, Shute's bestseller from 1957, had made a big impression on me and gave me hope.

The trustee of the title is Keith Stewart, one of those unprepossessing fellows from postwar England who bumbles along, doesn't expect much, but is an honest and honorable sort. These days he would be considered a world class nerd.

In his basement workshop he makes miniature models of engi
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My very favorite Nevil Shute novel. A seemingly simple man who writes articles about scale models must go on a quest. To say it simply, he must retrieve valuable gems from a ship-wrecked boat to support his niece. There are many adventures on the way to Polynesia (I think) andhe discovers that his life is not so small, after all. It's a quiet novel, no villains, but such a read. I have been looking for my own copy for years. Pick one up for me if you ever see one.

Update...just got the Kindle cop
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! There is nothing special about it, but it tells the story of very ordinary people rising to the occasion and doing what needs to be done. What that shows about their characters, plus the detailed information about mechanical engineering and sailing and logging and international politics made it un-put-downable for me. I can't wait to read it all over again!
Colleen Kleven
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to stumble across a box containing all 24 of Nevil Shute's novels in paperback. After putting them all in copyright date order, I have been able to read my way through most of his books while "watching" him progress as a writer. Such fun!
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: shute-nevil
Nevil Shute is my all time favorite author. His stories and characters are just wonderful. Very easy reading and you don't want the story to end.
This one is about Keith Stewart who lives quietly in suburban London, working free-lance for a model mechanic magazine. His sister and brother-in-law have him hide a jewel box aboard their sailboat just before they emigrate to Vancouver. But when the ship goes down in the South Pacific with them aboard, Keith must not only raise their young daughter, b
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I'm a Nevil Shute fan so my rating is really in relation to other Shute novels - I liked it but it really isn't one of my favorites. It's so methodical and detailed in it's slow progression of actions. Our hero Keith Stewart is a simple man and the book walks through every step he takes over the better part of year after his sister and brother in law are killed in a boat crash. (Actually that boat crash was a pretty good section and was a bit of a diversion from the rest of the book's tone.)

Andrew Walter
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to me by my Dad (himself with a background in engineering) as one of Shute's best.

While reading this tale of quiet model engineer Keith Stewart's journey to previously unimagined parts of the globe in an attempt to recover his nieces birthright, I couldn't help feeling a little saddened throughout. It may be me spouting off, uninformed, with my higher education arts degree, but I got the impression while reading that books like this just won't be written anymore. Not due to the stren
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: g-misc-geog

It's not great literature, and doesn't pretend to be, but Shute reminds us just how well made and how well written mainstream, no-formula, no-gimmicks, popular fiction can be. Or at least could be.

Like most authors, Shute was at his best writing about what he knew, and what he knew more about than anything else were engineering (his career) and sailing (his passion). Both feature hugely in this highly unusual story about a humble, self-effacing but great-hearted little man who overcomes all obst
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful treat. In this story, people are happy and kind and reliable even though this is written at a time when the public had been through both World Wars, the Great Depression, and post-war rationing. I've seen "do what you love, the money will follow" happen to people so I don't think this story is crazy. In fact, a less exaggerated version of this is what happens systematically when society more or less functions properly instead of hyper-rewarding cheaters.

Accessory rant:
Book crit
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TRUSTEE FROM THE TOOLROOM. (1960). Nevil Shute. ****.
Nevil Shute (1899-1960) was an immensely popular writer in his day. His books include, “On The Beach,” and “A Town Like Alice.” He wrote a total of twenty-four novels and an autobiogrphy. Not all his novels were hits, but he had more than his share. He was of British/Australian extraction, but set his stories around the world. He was trained, early on, as an aeronautical engineer, and much of his engineering background sneaks into his stories
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What happens when a mild-mannered British retiree with a love for making small models and a command of mechanical principals must go into the wide-world in order to help his family? Well sex, explosions, death, and political intrigue certainly do NOT ensue but you do get a great story of a simple man choosing to step far outside of his comfort zone in order to help the ones he loves.

My father is a similar sort of man, the type that can still quote and apply foundational math and scientific theo
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Trustee has the highest average rating of Shute's books on Goodreads.
Here's how it starts :

"West Ealing is a suburb to the west of London, and Keith Stewart lives there in lower part of No. 56 Somerset Road. No. 56 is an unusual house and a peculiarly ugly one ..."

Keith is a cherished old fictional friend, one of the special ones.

On about re-read #5, I noted this quote :

"He traced the route from Panama to Tahiti with his finger ... 'That's right,' he said. 'It is a long way.' He studied the long
What an interesting read exploring contrasting lifestyles and ways of working/thinking and looking at other people's lives. I loved getting to know the protagonist and the way he moves through life tackling problems CONSTRUCTIVELY is fascinating even if it feels slightly nostalgic! I loved the author's admiration for engineering and people who appreciate engineers!
3.5 stars. Shute's novels have become a kind of literary comfort food for me. There's something dependable and relaxing about his quiet, solid style and down-to-earth characters, and even the multitude of technical and mechanical details usually found in his stories.
Madhulika Liddle
Keith Stewart is a middle-aged mechanic who has given up the daily grind of a job to make mechanical models—for the joy he derives from them, and for the meagre income they bring him from the magazine Miniature Mechanics, for which he writes articles. He and his wife Katie (a store employee) lead a quiet, uneventful life. Very unlike Keith's sister Jo, married to an ex-naval officer, John Dermott. Jo and John lead far more flamboyant, exciting lives, and having decided one day to migrate to Cana ...more
Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In keeping with my rereading of favorite books lately, I just finished this one, and I loved it more than ever. Shute is such a great guy. His characters are almost always very ordinary people who just happen to be really good, kind, and amiable. I think most people actually are, really, just we don't hear about them so much. Keith Stewart is no exception. He has to make a trip to a small island in the Pacific, and he hasn't got much money, because his job doesn't pay much. What he does is desig ...more
Toi Thomas
I really enjoyed this story when it wasn’t making me angry (more on this later), but then I just have anger issues to begin with. This is a really simple and sweet clever story about a man who’s willing to go to great lengths to keep his word- and what’s not to like about that.

The story of Keith Stewart describes the rare instance of a man finding true peace and contentment in his life, career, and relationships. For Keith, the whole world revolves around his workshop and the work he does there
Jul 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alyson by: Deann Morin
Shelves: book-club, 2008
I see my score is a little below the average for this book. Hmm.

I've read one other Nevil Shute book, A Town Like Alice which I liked very much. I was drawn in from the beginning and really enjoyed it. Though it was more like two or three distinct books about the same character.

This one was a better, more cohesive story probably; but it was so filled with arcana (how to make a 1:20 scale generator with reduction gears, how to tack a jib and heave-to) that entire pages at a time would be "blah
Andrea Blythe
Dec 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Keith Stewart is a simple man, who has retired to follow his passion of making miniature functioning engines and machinery. He makes a small sum of money writing about these engineering projects for a magazine called the Miniature Mechanic. Living with his wife, who works in a local shop to help support them, he couldn't be happier.

Things become complicated, however, when Keith's sister and husband die in a ship wreck on a small island off Tahiti, leaving their young daughter in his care. Now a
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Keith Stewart and his wife Katie take custody of his niece Janice while her parents are on a sailing trip. Janice's parents have their life savings - and Janice's inheritance - on the yacht with them. When they yacht crashes on a reef and the parents are killed, Keith and Katie have a decision to make. Keith sets out from London to Hawaii, hoping to find a way from there to Tahiti to attempt to recover the inheritance without having any idea how he'd travel back to London. What he finds is that ...more
Oct 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorites of all time. Last time I checked it was out of print and the used book sellers were all in the UK, but I keep watching to find an affordable copy. Trustee was a choice of my book club a couple of years ago, and after having read "A Town Like Alice", also by Shute, we looked forward to reading it. It certainly did not disappoint. While it has plenty of action, it is an uplifting book about a gentle man with strong moral values.

1/25/09 Update: My awesome daughter found
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, expedition, cozy, hope
This was a great story of a good mans expedition to claim what was left to him after his sisters sudden death. He must travel from Europe to Tahiti with very little money. Because of his kindness to everyone, even strangers, he is gifted with unbelievable niceties. A good journey with many believable characters. A clean book with no violence, just a nice eventful story.
Anne Lind
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books, worth rereading every couple of years.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, 2017
4.5 stars - just delightful. I wish everyone was as big-hearted as Keith and Katie.
Merelee Knott
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the books I love to read and re-read again, and again, and again! You have to be patient in the beginning. The second time around, it's hilarious right from the start. The hero's sister and brother-in-law describe him as having no initiative, no fun, and he'll never go anywhere. They are so wrong! Long before the end, he has travelled halfway around the world. Not an easy feat for a nearly peniless, happily married, stay-at-home, Englishman in that era. Historical fiction authors take not ...more
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Classic genre-action/adventure 2 7 Mar 23, 2017 03:34AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Trustee from the Toolroom 5 29 Jul 22, 2012 11:58PM  
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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.
More about Nevil Shute...

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