No. 10 – Most Popular Aussie Novels of All Time
by Clayton Wehner - December 15th, 2010
At #10 – A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
29.3% of all respondents have read this book
Synopsis for A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
A Town Like Alice (U.S. title: The Legacy) is a novel by the British author Nevil Shute about a young Englishwoman in Malaya during World War II and in outback Australia post-war.
Jean Paget is just twenty years old and working in Malaya when the Japanese invasion begins. When she is captured she joins a group of other European women and children whom the Japanese force to march for miles through the jungle – an experience that leads to the deaths of many. Due to her courageous spirit and ability to speak Malay, Jean takes on the role of leader of the sorry gaggle of prisoners and many end up owing their lives to her indomitable spirit.
While on the march, the group run into some Australian prisoners, one of whom, Joe Harman, helps them steal some food, and is horrifically punished by the Japanese as a result. After the war, Jean tracks Joe down in Australia and together they begin to dream of surmounting the past and transforming his one-horse outback town into a thriving community like Alice Springs.
About Neville Shute (Books by Nevil Shute…)
Nevil Shute Norway (17 January 1899 – 12 January 1960) was a popular British novelist and a successful aeronautical engineer.
Born in Somerset Road, Ealing, London, he was educated at the Dragon School, Shrewsbury School and Balliol College, Oxford. 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.
By the outbreak of World War II, Shute was already a rising novelist. In 1948, after World War II, he flew his own Percival Proctor light airplane to Australia. On his return home, concerned about the general decline in his home country, he decided that he and his family would emigrate and so, in 1950, he settled with his wife and two daughters, on farmland at Langwarrin, south-east of Melbourne.
He had a brief career as a racing driver in Australia between 1956 and 1958, driving a white XK140 Jaguar. Some of this experience found its way into his book On the Beach. Many of his books were filmed, including Lonely Road, Pied Piper, On the Beach (in 1959 and also in 2000), No Highway (in 1951) and A Town Like Alice (in 1956). The last was serialised for Australian television in 1981.
Shute died in Melbourne in 1960.
The List so far…
#19 – My Place by Sally Morgan
#22 – Dirt Music by Tim Winton
#23 – Breath by Tim Winton