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Publisher's Summary

Keith Stewart, a retiring and ingenious engineer, could not have been happier in his little house in the shabby London suburb of Ealing. There he invented the mini-motor, the six-volt generator, and the tiny Congreve clock. Then a chain of events sweeps him into deep waters and leads him to his happiest discovery yet.

©1960 Heather Felicity Norway and Union Trustee Company of Australia, Ltd. (P)1988 Recorded Books, LLC

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Hologram of a Decent Man

Where does Trustee from the Toolroom rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's in the top 20% of all books I've read, and I've been reading books for almost 60 years.

What other book might you compare Trustee from the Toolroom to and why?

At first I thought 'Cinderella', but that's not correct because Cinderella is a decent person who wants to marry the prince, and in the end she gets what she wants.

Keith Stewart already has the life he wants, centered around making miniature machines and living with his wife of many years. He wants nothing else until a tragedy forces him to take massive risks for the benefit of a small child.

Really, this book is more like 'The Lord of the Rings'. While there are no 'dark forces', like Frodo, Keith must leave his happy home and set off to strange and dangerous places for the benefit of others. Like Frodo, the last thing Keith wanted was a quest.

Keith doesn't risk his life to monsters, but he risks his entire meager net worth and his life in his quest to fulfill his duty as a trustee.

Richard Bach once wrote that Neville Shute's writing is 'a hologram of a decent man'. Nowhere is that hologram more visible than in this book.

Which scene was your favorite?

I enjoyed the sailboat voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti quite a bit.

If you could take any character from Trustee from the Toolroom out to dinner, who would it be and why?

I'd like to take the BOAC navigator out to lunch, because I used to be a Navigator also.

Any additional comments?

This book takes place in the immediate period following World War II. It is startling to the modern reader to read how difficult, time-consuming, and expensive travel and communication was only a short time ago.

Besides the wonderful story, this book provides a fasinating look at how many of the everyday aspects of life have become so much easier in recent years.

I only gave the narration four stars. Frank Muller is just about the best American reader there is, but he's still an American. He reads the European characters as well as any American could, but not as well as a Brit would have.

I'm a Texan who had the happiness of living in England for several years. I don't think all Americans appreciate the hundreds of different accents and dialects that we just combine in to a 'British Accent'. I assure you, regional and class accents are a huge deal in UK.

While he can't read every book, I sure wish Patrick Tull had read this one,

58 of 61 people found this review helpful

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  • Paula
  • Overland Park, KS USA
  • 12-26-12

Just Simply a Great Story!

Nevil Shute's writing is so wonderful! This book, of an ordinary man who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances, and who must respond in extraordinary ways, is just simply a great story with a wonderful (if perhaps a bit predictable) outcome. Somehow, I didn't want the reading to end. . . loved the narration as well as the prose. If you are a traveler, this story takes the listener from Britain to the South Pacific to Hawaii to the lumber industry of the state of Washington. If you have a mechanical interest, this will certainly be of interest as it deals with hobby crafts and industrial applications. As for me, I am neither, but I loved the story just as if I was both a traveler or engineer. Highly recommended.

64 of 68 people found this review helpful

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My favorite book!

Being an engineer, I think I was predisposed to liking this book. It's a fascinating study of how an engineer is presented with seemingly insurmountable problems and overcomes them by determination and skill. Shute never wrote a book that wasn't completely engrossing and this, his last book, is no exception.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful

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  • DCinMI
  • Fairview, MI
  • 11-25-12

What a delightful story!

In these days when the "Haves" don't seem to know the meaning of the word "enough," it just seems good to have a story about a "Have Not" who does know. Also, it is so often true, though not often enough acknowledged, that the most generous and honest people are those who don't seem to have much to give. Keith Stewart is one of those people. He knows just what he needs to be happy and doesn't go grasping for more. He knows what his duty is and takes it seriously, even though it takes him far outside of his comfort zone.

Another reviewer compared the theme of this book to Lord of the Rings, and I can definitely see that. It also occurred to me that there's a touch of It's a Wonderful Life in there, as well. Of course, George Bailey wanted to get out of "Dodge" and couldn't, while Keith Stewart wanted to stay but had to leave for a while. Along the way, though, it was revealed just how many lives he had touched without knowing it.

I had tears in my eyes at the end of this book, but they were not sad ones. (Except for the ones that were sorry the book was over.)

Highly recommended!!!

32 of 35 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely Delightful Listen Highly Recommended

As the daughter of an engineer, this book tugged on my heart. For anyone not of the technical bent, tis a wonderful listen for the story.
Narrated by the iconic Frank Mueller, this classic Nevil Shute novel brings back excellent stories written beautifully. And narrated by Mueller, a person of acclaim in the history of audiobooks, makes this a one in as hundred type of listen.

Romance, a very likable protagonist and the effect he has on his followers as a writer for an engineering weekly magazine, a bit of suspense with the sailing of a yacht and so on, this is a wonderful listen for anyone.

Highly Recommended.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Favorite book in ages!!

So this is a clever book, but a simple book, about a brilliant but simple man. Simple courtesy and kindness creates opportunities and brings kindness from unexpected directions! This is a must listen!!

33 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 08-01-14

Joy, Humility, and Just Pure Goodness

I just become more and more impressed with the writing of Nevil Shute. I'm not an engineer or a skilled craftsman. But I VALUE that which a person puts their mind and heart into and strives to do their best at. And I fully understand and appreciate a person who does not build their self worth on material things. As for readers/listeners who were bored because they were not engineers, I find that a bit odd, because this wonderful book, though it includes some technical data, is so very much MORE than a procedural manual. It is the story of a simple man, who is full of skill and talent, yet chooses family, joy, and the simple goodness of continued work with his hands in lieu of selling himself to the highest bidder. I couldn't foresee the outcome of his journey, but oh, how I enjoyed traveling along, as Keith Stewart, humbly accepted new responsibilities and sailed half way around the world to fulfill them. The flow of the book, the narration, and the culmination were absolutely perfect. So satisfying.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Sweet story, but not very exciting

STORY (literary fiction) - This is the story of a very kind, moral man from England (Keith) who feels he must journey halfway around the world to do what is right for his family. He has very little money to pay for such a trip, so he must ask favors and find ways to trade and cut expenses. There are people who ask people to ask still OTHER people for favors to help Keith complete his journey. It is heartwarming to see how kind and accommodating everyone is but not particularly interesting.

Keith is an inventor/engineer by trade, so there is quite a bit of technical talk. He also does a lot of thinking, planning and preparation. The most exciting part of the story takes place at sea, and the reader will hear about sailing and navigation. This part is perilous, but Keith courageously perseveres.

PERFORMANCE - It was okay. I disliked his attempts at female voices. Luckily, there weren't many.

OVERALL - This is a very clean, moral story with no sex or bad language. Despite its high rating, I found it enjoyable but very mediocre.

38 of 44 people found this review helpful

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Humble Goodness - a Rich Read

Shute has created another main character who, despite flaws, acts on the needs of another and has an adventure of every kind. So well told, so well performed, I just kept listening to it over and over. Rich, wonderful, inspiring and delightful.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Howard
  • Cumberland, MD, United States
  • 12-28-12

A gem of a story!

Written over a generation ago this quaint story about a modest author\machinist takes you along for his adventure of a lifetime. I enjoyed how oblivious our hero was to his fame and notoriety. He was a simple, creative man that so enjoyed his work that he underestimated the impact his work had on others.

The story also speaks of a time when communication was not so instantaneous, describing how information was sought and obtained by threads of connections. Also, an element of the story I enjoyed was how the simple courtesy of answering someone's letter seeking extra advice was repaid ten thousand times over. I'll recommend you listen to this story and savor the long gone days when long distance person-to-person telephone calls and telegrams were extraordinary events and how a humble man accepts the assistance of his fans, but doesn't let it change him. I truly enjoyed my time listening to Trustee from the Toolroom and expect to visit with him again and again.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful