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
Love a good mystery, but don't care much for pure thrillers.
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.
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.
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?
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!
Listen on dog walks, commutes and around the house. Welcome virtually any genre but southern fiction holds a special place in my heart.
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.
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.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
This book was written in 1950, five years before I was born, and it's absolutely amazing. The narration is so good. The story begins in 1935 when Douglas McFadden contacts his solicitor (lawyer) to redraft his will. His solicitor, Noel Strachan, whose law office is in London goes to visit Mr. McFadden in Ayr, Scotland to redraft the will according to his wishes. Time passes, WWII begins, and Douglas McFadden dies. Noel Strachan is charged with finding his heir. The story that unfolds over the years following, in the countries of Great Britain, Malaya, and Australia is heartbreaking, courageous, and triumphant. I can't believe I had never heard of this book before. I am so glad I found it!
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.
I had this book in my library for so long, I forgot what it was about. So I looked up some reviews and a lady posted one saying, it was as good as her favorite book, Mrs. Mike. This was a sign for sure! Mrs. Mike changed my life when I was 14 years old...A Town Like Alice changed my life at 25.
This book turned my world upside down, tore my heart apart, made me feel anxious and uncomfortable. Then it turned my eyes to see something so much more beautiful than I could imagine....true love, courage, hope and selflessness. It's a story of a woman that even though she was faced with extreme adversity, or was surrounded by it, she didn't shy away from doing what she could to make a difference in the lives of those around her.
What a powerful book, matched perfectly with talented narrators.
Excellent combination of voice, performance and story, this is a real five star experience and gives great joy.
"Dated but a must read"
I listened to this book as I drove to Alice Springs. It was not as i expected with relatively little about the town in the story. But a wonderfully dated love story with a good woman and a bonza bloke. Lots of cringing around the descriptions of the aboriginal peoples and the expectations of women in post war society.
However with it as a setting for my trip it worked for me and perhaps explained much of what i saw and vise versa.
This is a timeless story beautifully written and beautifully read. The old ones are so worth revisiting
"Fun book with touching storyline"
Fun book with touching storyline, enjoyed the voice reading. Perhaps a little long at times. Blah blah blah blah blah.
So beautifully narrated ! Lovely heartwarming story ! The characters lives and difficulties so relatable ! Thoroughly enjoyed every word of it! Excellent
"A Favourite Story beautifully read."
A Town Like Alice is deservedly one of the best stories of all time. There is only one film of it (Virginia McKenna & Peter Finch) and unfortunately it completely butchered the story to reduce the length and the rich depth of characters & plot. So I was a bit sceptical when buying the audio-book because a poor reading would ruin one of the few stories I re-read frequently.... However - it's great! Robin Bailey has a wonderful voice and delivery. He can change his voice incredibly well for different characters (M or F) in the dialogue bits and I now listen to ATLA more than I read it! Also looking for other things Robin has done.
"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.
"Heartwarming but corny"
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.
"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.
"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.
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