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A Town Like Alice | [Nevil Shute]

A Town Like Alice

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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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. 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...

©1989 The Trustees of the Estate of the Late Nevil Shute Norway

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (2020 )
5 star
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4.5 (1414 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rachel Atascadero, CA, United States 03-05-11
    Rachel Atascadero, CA, United States 03-05-11 Member Since 2015

    I own a small shop selling custom/costume Jewelry. I love to listen to audio books while I create jewelry. I love all animals and get very upset when they aren't treated well, even in fiction.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    123
    ratings
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    "A GREAT Book"

    A wonderful book! A really great love story, that isn't a romance! Unforgettable likable characters.

    18 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon West Monroe, LA, United States 06-13-13
    Sharon West Monroe, LA, United States 06-13-13 Member Since 2009

    Humanitarian Aid Worker living in Central Asia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
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    Story
    "A Favorite beautifully read"

    I really enjoyed listening to one of my all-time favorite novels. It is such a wonderful listen. Cannot praise it enough!

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Stephenson 03-31-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "About as good as it gets...."

    I've listened to about 300 Audible titles in the past 8 years and this one is in my Top Ten. Superbly written and superbly read.

    From what I can tell, most of Audible's best sellers are junk -- endless vampire drivel, bargeloads of witless thrillers and so forth -- but a few downloads like "Alice" can redeem the whole enterprise.

    44 of 51 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MidwestGeek 11-14-13
    MidwestGeek 11-14-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Disappointing story saved by fantastic narration."

    This is the only book by Shute that I have read besides the celebrated "On the Beach." The story was a mixed bag; the first part concerning Jean's capture and treatment at the hands of the Japanese in British Malaya is interesting and well-told. I found it easy to identify with the women prisoners and their children and admired their perseverance. The second part of the book concerns Jean's quest to find Joe, an Australian stringer whom she had come to know during their mutual imprisonment. Although there is some interesting history and geography, this part of the book drags along soporifically toward a predictable and idealized conclusion.

    I don't understand why this novel remains so popular; the characters seem quite dated to me. I might even have given up finishing except for the marvelous narration by Robin Bailey, whose brings the characters to life through his imitation of their dialects, their gender, and style of speech.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mama C 11-06-12
    Mama C 11-06-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Delightful!"

    I remembered seeing the mini-series in 1981 and finding the story unforgettable, but I had no idea it was based on a book. My book club read the book and I could hardly put it down. The story is so well told and the horrors of war are touched but not dwelt upon. Jean, the protagonist, is a strong, admirable woman who accomplishes so much during the war and after. Shute has written a sweet love story with so much more involved. The narrator did an excellent job with the British and Australian accents. Loved this book!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Longview, TX, United States 05-10-12
    Linda Longview, TX, United States 05-10-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Great reading of a classic"

    This is a powerful story. One of my all-time favorite reads. Don't miss this one.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 12-27-11
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 12-27-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great first half. Second--so so"

    The first half (the POW story) is gripping and well told. The Australia part kind of drags, Also I have 2 criticisms; 1) the heroine is perfect. She has absolutely no faults. This is very unrealistic. 2) The attitude towards female sexuality is very primitive--all the desire comes from the man and the woman has no desires of her own. As for the criticism about the racism--that is how it really was. Would you want him to re-write history in order to be politically correct?

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracey Croxton East, Australia 02-22-11
    Tracey Croxton East, Australia 02-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Does the book justice"

    This is one of my top 5 novels ever, love everything about the story and the audio version doesn't let it down. The walking around Singapore in the war section is done so well it is enough story in itself..but the development of "the town like Alice" after is superb, as is the narration by Noel. All fits together for something above the ordinary.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelli Birmingham, AL, United States 05-04-12
    Kelli Birmingham, AL, United States 05-04-12 Member Since 2015

    Listen on dog walks, commutes and around the house. Welcome virtually any genre but southern fiction holds a special place in my heart.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Historical Adventure During and After World War II"

    This was a wonderful story full of historical adventure set during and after World War II that stretched over England, Malaya (now Malaysia) and Australia. I loved the tone of the book, the pace, and the strong female protagonist as well as her love interest. I especially liked how the story was crafted from the point of view of an English solicitor administering an estate who interjects his opinions along the way and grows just as fond of his client as the reader does. The history lessons regarding the Japanese occupation of Malaya and its impact on the British living there and life in the Australian outback only enhanced my enjoyment of this novel.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    i. Ski Duluth, Minnesota 10-04-11
    i. Ski Duluth, Minnesota 10-04-11 Member Since 2013
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    "A lovely story"

    This is a book in two parts -- the first is about the struggles of women POW's on the Malaysian peninsula during WWII. That tale, in and of itself was worth the listen. The second part is about the heroine's desire to find the Australian soldier who helped the women stay alive during their ordeal. It is wonderfully descriptive of western Australia during the post-war period. An "extra" is the voice of the narrator, an older London solicitor who obviously cares deeply for the heroine.

    For those who have been to or are familiar with Australia, this glimpse of the past is quite pleasing. It is a book that will hold the listener's attention.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Praxis
    Lincolnshire
    3/12/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great audio interpretation"

    One of my favourite books of all time & I shall enjoy being able to listen to it as I do the chores! Being unabridged the audio does not lose any of the nuances of such a great and inspiring piece of writing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neil
    3/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Timeless and epic story"

    This is a wonderful and sweeping narrative which stands the test of time. It wouldn't meet modem standards of racism, misogyny or imperialism - but ultimately its heart is in the right place and the three central characters are beautifully drawn. Great performance
    From the narrator also.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • hfffoman
    Kent
    8/28/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Heartwarming but corny"
    Any additional comments?

    I got this because I had read The Pied Piper, another wartime novel of his many years ago, and enjoyed it. I had also heard that A Town Like Alice was more highly regarded. This one is set partly in Malaysia (Malaya as it was then) during the war, partly in London and partly in western Australia where life was extremely primitive in those days.

    It is an entertaining and moving yarn. The first half is an interesting war story and I like the positive spirit the second half gives to Australia. The land is bursting with opportunity and the people are tough, hard working, honest and full of heart, without exception. It could be an icon to Australian culture in the way that Huckleberry Finn is to American. Except that Huckleberry Finn is a masterpiece while A Town Like Alice is corny writing, bordering on trashy. The final third, the part in Australia, is honestly like reading Enid Blyton. (Err, I don't mean to belittle Enid Blyton, she was a great writer for the under tens). It feels like it was dashed off at the typewriter in an afternoon. The author seems to have learned that Australians say "bonzer" and "oh my word" which he inserts into their speech with such frequency it was like a terrible joke.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Helen
    London
    1/26/13
    Overall
    "A great listen"

    Yes, a little dated but but really brings alive the period, which is a slightly unfashionable one now. Also, I've always found the two parts of the story strangely disconnected. I think they could have made two books. However, it is a riveting story and very well read.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Julian
    Woking, United Kingdom
    11/24/12
    Overall
    "Enjoyable story very well read"

    I read A Town Like Alice as a teenager and it was enjoyable to listen to the story again. In some ways Shute's tale is a little dated but in others he is remarkably up to date, for instance, his attitude to women being entrepreneurial. Robin Bailey reads the story remarkably well. The accents seemed just right and varied remarkably between the characters. Definitely recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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