This was my first book by Nevil Shute but it won't be my last.
I especially liked the narrative being written from the elderly solicitor's perspective. Although in the last few chapters you could tell where the story was going, you wouldn't know how it got there until you finished.
I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.
A young woman, during WWII, in Japanese occupied Malaya, led a group of women and children, who traveled 1200 miles before finding a place where they would live and work until the end of WWII.
There were 800 women and children when the long and arduous journey began. When they found a place to settle, only 30 of them survived.
While working in a Japanese rice paddy, two men passed by who were also prisoners of war in Malaya. They worked as mechanics and fixed anything on four wheels. The woman was quite interested in the gentleman and during one of their infrequent discussions was told that he lived in Alice, Australia. She informed him that she would be returning to England when the war was over.
The man and woman became great friends. However, the woman was always seen carrying a baby on her hip. The man understood this to mean that she was married.
The men passed through often and the Australian would bring things such as coffee, sugar and other commodities that were extremely in short supply because of the war. He over stepped his stealing one too many times and had to pay an extraordinary price.
The narrator was great and made the book a great listen. The novel had no guns, soldiers fighting and killing. Instead, it explained how two people met and their journey through life.There were no complaints about the concentration camp that the man lived in. However, the Japanese had no place for the women and children to be properly housed and they were left to travel mile after mile on foot, attempting to find food, water and a place to rest and sleep for a short time before continuing on their journey to find a camp in the wind for women and children.
Neil Hunt reads the story well, manages the accents perfectly, and makes the characters come alive. But although the book gives insight into the plight of Malaysia in WWII, and into the challenges of developing post-war Australia, in the end it felt like a Maeve Binchy tale melded with one of the tamer Harlequin romances.
The main female character was such a paragon of plucky virtue that it was hard to take her seriously. The male leading character was humorous, kind, gentle, brave, and manly, without flaw. The narrating character was perhaps a bit stuffy, but honest, honorable, and grandfatherly. I would have loved just a bit of realism thrown in. One example: the plucky heroine, who has ridden a gentle horse six whole times, takes on a rescue ride of 40 miles, walk/trot, through the trackless Australian bush, with only a plucky servant by her side, Yes, she is blistered and sore afterwards, but really.
Well, I listened during my barn chores, so it was better than not listening.
From the suburbs of London, to the countryside of Malaya, to the outback of Australia, the reader accompanies Jean Paget on her extraordinary journey, cheering for her, agonizing with her, wondering about her future. The slightly odd format of the way the book is told only serves to heighten its appeal. I was unfamiliar with the author Neville Shute. Now I am a fan. Read for yourself and be drawn in.
It was mostly a good story until it got ridiculous. The first part of the book was great. Somewhere after the puritanical love scene - where this woman was revealed to be so pure that she believed showing her breasts to a man (oh my word) was more horrifying than war atrocities - I lost interest. The dialogue got very tiresome and the plot was pure nonsense. He should have stopped writing much sooner
Inspiring story of how people demonstrating concern for others over themselves is born out of a wholesome character. It has impacted my life for the better. True love is worth the sacrifice. Best story I've ever heard. Thank you for sharing it.
It moves right along, not all the tedious details of things like in modern books. I had to pull my car over twice and have a cry, one of despair and one of complete happiness. I would only listen 30 minutes at a time because I did not want the book to end. My favorite book prior to this one was The Chaperone, narrated by Elizabeth McGovern.
Good book to take on a long road trip.
It was a bit long but very interesting. I found Jean to be very courageous and interesting and I was glad to learn about Australia and it's lingo.
I enjoyed the narration very much.
Great story and characters. Really enjoyed this one and the Far East setting. I learned a lot about Australia and the outback.