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Round the Bend

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,090 ratings  ·  101 reviews
Tom Cutter is in love with airplanes and has been from his boyhood. He can remain in England, an employee in another man's aviation business, or he can set out on his own.

With little more than personal grit and an antique aircraft, Cutter organizes an independent flying service on the Persian Gulf. He sees opportunities everywhere, also dangers.

"In Cutter's growth from pro

Paperback, 396 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by House of Stratus (first published 1951)
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Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-favs
This reviewer cannot be objective when it comes to N. Shute. I love his work. I have all 22 of the books he wrote from 1920 to 1960. He is probably best known for On the Beach, a post nuclear war doomsday story. Popular at the peak of the Cold War. This story, however, is a great read. I find his work very intense. It is one of those kind of books that you'll be 50 pages into before you know it. I LOVE those kind of books. This is about a mystic in a modern world. Down to earth. Simple. Yet deep ...more
Jul 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I confess I don't know how Nevil Shute does it. This novel, written about 1951, purports to be the autobiography of an airline entrepreneur after WWII. He starts in England with a single small plane and gradually builds an airfreight empire centered in Bahrain. He has no interests other than his business, and he achieves success by pluck, unremitting hard work, sinking every penny back into the business, and hiring the best people as mechanics, engineers, and pilots, even if they aren't white Eu ...more
Roz Morris
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: love-and-loss
There's something about Nevil Shute's prose that is quite beguiling. It's not poetic or florid; more it's a quality of the way he scrutinises the emotions of his characters. His narration is cool, but much lies under the surface. The usual mood is reserve, endurance. But under that quiet exterior there is turbulence indeed.

The narrator of Round The Bend is Alan Cutter, an aircraft engineer, pilot and entrepreneur who starts an air freight business in Bahrain. The story is the account of his frie
Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Just finished rereading this one, and it's my favorite Shute novel and one of my favorite books of all time, notwithstanding the sexism of the era and the rather quaint and patronizing view taken of "Asiatics". For the time it was entirely enlightened.

Nevil Shute was a great writer and a wonderful person. Aviation in his time did for those few people who pursued it what the internet does in ours for everyone: makes the world into our own small neighborhood. Connie is one of my favorite characte
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Using multiple rereads as criteria for favorite novelists, Nevil Shute is easily my most liked. Set in the years after WWII, written then, it provides useful perspective on the Middle East.

Here's a quote about one of the minor characters :

"Dwight was an American, a soldier of fortune by profession. Wherever there is trouble in the world the Dwights of all nations foregather. There are not very many of them, thirty or forty perhaps, and they are all supremely competent men because because the ot
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so totally lovely. I didn't even know it was actually a book about religion, or really, about God more than religion, thank goodness, because otherwise I probably wouldn't have thought I'd like it much. But I did. There's something I love about the just post-war novelists--this style was a bit similar to Jessica Mitford or Somerset Maugham, not in any tonal way, but in the sort of clipped dialog, and passages of very matter of fact description, and some of the lovely British slang of th ...more
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mystical and magnificent - this book was real surprise to me. Post WW2, Shute is asking himself the fundamental questions of man's existence, through what starts off as an adventure story based on the life of a young Briton obsessed with aircraft. The other main character is a charismatic young man - half Russian and half Chinese - who is a skilled aircraft engineer. Shute and the characters he creates embark on what effectively becomes a search for religious enlightenment. One of them finds his ...more
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My favorite Shute book. A no-nonsense engineer grapples with the disturbing possibility that his best airplane mechanic may in fact be an incarnation of the Messiah. Imagine Richard Bach’s “Illusions,” except not written by a drugged-up hippie. Now visualize “Atlas Shrugged," except not written by a fascist propagandist. Mix non-violently and you have this weird, compelling, unique fable about a man trying to reconcile Modernism with Mysticism, finding spiritual value in technical precision, and ...more
John R.
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: almost anyone
Nevil Shute is a great writer and much more subtle and seductive than might be expected. A plain-spoken man tells his life story which includes the story of his dealings with a life-long friend and a transcendent spiritual experience is the result. No one who has ever read the book on the basis of my recommendation has ever expressed disappointment.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
First of all, I'd like to say that, had it been available to me to give this novel a 65-70% rating, rather than having to decide between 60 and 80% then that's what I would have done. It's a bold book - all the bolder given its historical context - and in common with all Shute's work its examination of how human beings can live decently, faced with extraordinary circumstances, is thought-provoking and involving. It tells a good story too. Its weakness really lies with a naivety, or overoptimism, ...more
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Vijay and Heather
Nevil Shute is one of my favorite authors. Round the Bend is an adventure/romance novel set in the first half of the 20th Century. It explores the themes of friendship, the early days of civil aviation, discrimination & prejudice, and how humanity might respond to a new Prophet or Manifestation were he to appear in the middle of the 20th century. My personal preference is the unabridged audiobook version. But Nevil Shute is not a difficult author to read and I am sure my friends would enjoy ...more
Vikas Datta
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fascinating... the best rationale of religion as a reason for diligence and pride in one's work, and above all, the tale of a messianic figure who really inspires but never gets swept away by the adulation he commands. But the narrator is no less a hero, for his diligence and openness, which is remarkable for the time he is in... A grand narrative of the changing postwar world and one of the best works of this master story-teller...
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aviation
An aircraft engineer inadvertently starts a cult that spreads across the Eastern world, with believers travelling thousands of miles to hear him speak of God and engine maintenance.

Is Connie, born of a Russian mother and Chinese father and always interested in religion, really round the bend? Is he the prophet who will save the world? Or is he just a good man and efficient engineer?

Like most of Nevil Shute's ideas, it's simple, yet wacky, and he narrates the story in a way that keeps you reading
Hugh Lambert
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have read every book by Mr. Shute and the screenplay I am aware of, and he remains my favorite author. I think this book is his best, and it remains my favorite book I have ever read.
Perhaps what I like best is that is seems the last kind of book a post-Victorian English Man would have written, especially one born into the “upper middle class”. He treats the "non-Europeans" like people, and not "wogs". He shows disdain for Europeans who do treat people like "wogs". As a wog myself I appreciate
Lynn Pribus
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite of Shute's which would probably be TOWN LIKE ALICE. Or ON THE BEACH. Both of those had characters who were emotional in complex, gripping life-and-death situations.

This one, other the other hand, involved Tom Cutter, a Brit whose main emotional ties were with aircraft from the time he was very young. The novel is rather like a tedious log of flying and buying various planes as he builds his own flying business in the Middle East and Asia from his home airfield of Bahrain -- an is
Jun 29, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the fourth book of Nevil Shute that I have read. The three others being Pied Piper, A town like Alice and No Highway. Shute is a wonderful writer and story teller and his books are so intelligent and wise. As in many of his books, this one also revolves around airplanes and the aviation world. It is worth reading this book because it can give the reader an understanding of the world after the 2nd World War. The book was written in 1956 and it is incredible how things have changes in not ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked up an old hardback edition of this book for about fifty cents at a local book fair in Oakland about 45 years ago, having no idea what joy this author would be bringing me in the years to come. Like all of Nevil Shute's books, it is a quick, thoroughly engrossing read. On the surface simply the story of an airplane mechanic and pilot, it is also a reworking of the Jesus story -- something I am glad I didn't know in the beginning, as that might have put me off reading it. The value of the ...more
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things-without even realizing it! I have collected all of Shute's books over the years and have enjoyed reading them many times. This is his best. Tom Cutter sets out to make a living in the airplane business and is successful doing so in the Middle East. THe real story is Connie Shaklin, his chief mechanic and his development as a messianic figure and the prejudice he encounters to his message.
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was completely different from what I expected, even several chapters in. It starts out as a quaint book that shows the really weird way Europeans thought of the world and "Asiatics" just after World War II - the author is so 1940's/50's British in the language that he uses. But, somehow it turns into a story about how an ordinary, but good, man can become divine. It's a plausible scenario for what happened to other "prophets" in antiquity, but in a relatively modern setting.
Jim Puskas
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of nevil Shute's very best, right up there with "A Town Like Alice" and "In the Wet". While the story takes place in the world of men and avaition, as is the case with so much that Shute wrote, it also ventures quite far into the realm of the spiritual and the profound impact that exposure to middle east and south asian cultures can have upon "western" man.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Wonderful read, in Shute's methodical style. Yes, it gets a little spiritual, but that rings true. I had an engineer friend who worked on projects in east Africa. The town used to gather in silence to watch him practice tai chi in the morning, because they thought he must be a holy man.
Tom Burkhalter
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An airplane mechanic and pilot goes to the Arabian Gulf to seek his fortune after World War II. He reunites with an old friend...who may be the next Enlightened One...who is also and airplane mechanic. This is a thought-provoking book by a writer whose work has influenced me in many ways.
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a mesmerizing tale of East meets West. This is the second time I've read this book and I realized during this reading what a fantastic story-teller Mr. Shute was. I highly, highly recommend this book.
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Larry Piper
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well, this was fun, but then it was Nevil Shute, who is awesome. Naturally, we have airplanes or boats or both.

Actually, it's mostly airplanes, or aeroplanes I suppose, given that Shute was a Brit/Aussie. Anyway, Tom Cutter got enamored by airplanes at an early age. Basically, he ran away from home at 12 or so to join the circus, the air circus. He made friends with Connie Shaklin, also a young man in the circus. Shaklin was also half Chinese, for what that's worth.

Well, the war comes (WWII) a
Will Chin
To be honest, if not for the book box sale and the fact that I loved Shute's other book, On the Beach, I wouldn't have picked up this book at all. The basic premise of Round the Bend feels like a modern retelling of Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, but with an aviation twist somewhere in between. What Siddhartha succeeded in doing, however, is to discuss spiritual/religious topics through the lens of the titular character, Siddhartha — that isn't the case here.

Shute's Siddhartha, a man named Connie S
Edmund Bloxam
Mar 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
A Lesson In Taking Advantage of 'Foreigners' and How To Use Religion to Manipulate People.

This book is so matter-of-fact, I will write my review as much like it as possible. It is a first person book. There is virtually no description at all. There is only the story. It is a story about a person starting an aviation company in the Middle East. Somewhere early on, somebody dies, but there's no emotion in this book either, so there we go. It just happened. Much of it reads like a travel itinerary
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I sort of enjoyed this book. I cringed at some of the racial language, but you do have to bear in mind the prevailing attitudes at the time, and I think this would have been fairly enlightened for back then (ditto for the patronisation of the female characters.
The book was interesting, although you could see the minor twist at the end coming a mile off- but at least that did give a purpose to the whole thing. The book lost me a bit in the final third though. As a first person narration with a si
Amy Heap
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am usually all about the feelings, but I strangely enjoyed this novel about planes, the Middle East, Asia, attitudes to race and marriage just after WWII. Tom Cutter is a practical, dispassionate sort of fellow who loves planes, and after the war and a disappointment in love (much more tragic than that makes it sound, but he was very cool about it), he ends up running a charter business in the Middle East. One of his old friends, a Eurasian man, comes to be his ground engineer, and ends up a r ...more
Maxine Patterson
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
An odd sensation to revisit Nevil Shute, as I remember my parents avidly reading his books.
This could almost be categorised as a boy's book - lots of mechanical details; fast paced narrative without too much description. However, Shute tackles some important themes, quite surprising since it was written in the 1950's. Religion, racism and colonialism. Discussing the religion, it was interesting to consider that it was almost a precursor to mindfulness - value what you do and how you do it - for
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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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“You cannot argue stupidity, you just have to accept it patiently as one of those things.” 70 likes
“You can only do a thing for the first time once, and that goes for falling in love.” 2 likes
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