Eight hundred women and children begin a 1,200-mile journey on foot across Japanese-occupied Malaya. At journey’s end, only 30 will still be alive. This is the story of one woman, of her ordeal, and of how she was saved by the sacrifice of an Australian soldier. It is a story of rare individual courage in the face of certain death, and hope in the face of despair.
©1950 William Morrow & Co, Inc. (P)1990 Recorded Books
I really loved the first half of the story. The second half it was hard not to wince on all the political incorrectness.
I didn't know the history of women prisoners of war in Malaysia. I think the author was able to allow me to experience a sense of the arduous trek and of the native people and the Japanese prison guards. The main character impressed me with her refusal to sit by and accept problems .
Superb narration ... Learned some history I knew nothing about ... Thoroughly enjoyed it and I learned about life in the Australian outback post WW II.
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.
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
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.
A Town Like Alice is a book that leaves you feeling you'll never be the same. It is tender, inspiring, and overcoming. It shows a picture of life lived on a grand scale, even in the midst of suffering.
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