Round the Bend

Narrated by: John Telfer
Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (203 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Tom Cutter hires Constantine Shaklin as an engineer in his air-freight business, he little realises the extraordinary gifts of his new recruit. Shaklin possesses a religious power which inspires everyone he meets to a new faith and hope for humanity. As Cutter’s business grows across Asia, so does Shaklin’s fame, until he is widely regarded as a unifying deity. Though he struggles to believe Shaklin is indeed divine, Cutter too finds solace in his friend’s teachings, and commits to passing on his message.

©2009 Nevil Shute (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, great reader

This is a gripping, moving, thought provoking and deeply enjoyable novel written by a master story teller and read by a superb and sympathetic actor. Bravo!

14 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Round the Bend is classic Shute, but not the best

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend any of Nevil Shute's books.

What did you like best about this story?

Shute brings air travel and distant places in the 1940's-50's to life and makes it interesting!

Have you listened to any of John Telfer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This was the first. He was well suited to the book. I'd listen to him again.

Who was the most memorable character of Round the Bend and why?

I'd say the narrator, which may seem odd to some. Yet it was Shute himself in many ways, exploring his beliefs through the guy telling the story.

Any additional comments?

I find Shute to be one of the best writers and much overlooked. His blending of engineering, flying, fascination with many places and his ability to tell a story are superb. He champions the "little guy or girl" who just gets on with life, not complaining or seekking glory, but just living decently, if not always wisely. He is self deprecating when writing about himself, and his characters come through with true likeableness even if you wouldn't believe as they do. Shute considered this his best novel. Though I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did my husband, and will read it again, I don't agree with the author. Trustee From the Toolroom and A Town Like Alice are his best. This is why I gave it 4 stars.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Zen and the Art of Airplane Maintenance?

Actually a spiritual book in all the ways that count, but told in highly digestible story form. It is an thoughtful, believable portrait of the development and life of a "holy" person, viewed through the eyes of his contemporary.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Nevil is the Best!

Where does Round the Bend rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book ranks very high on my list as just a very good story

What was one of the most memorable moments of Round the Bend?

Well when Tom returns to the UK and manages to buy a larger plane each time-that is impressive! While Connie is so religous about his maintenance...

Have you listened to any of John Telfer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but this one is excellent

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Round the Bend

Any additional comments?

this is a story which grips and fascinates, from a master story teller!
Everyone should be reading Nevil Shute if they want a good satisfying-and long-read!

7 people found this helpful

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  • NS
  • 07-16-14

One of Nevil Shute's best stories

Any additional comments?

Disclaimer: this is being written by an avid Nevil Shute fan. That being said, this is Shute at his best. If you've never heard of him, or only read A Town Like Alice, then give this one a try. You just might be fortunate enough to become a Nevil Shute fan too!! The reader is also excellent.

4 people found this helpful

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An unanticipated gem

Perhaps this book resonated with me because I've recently been to several of the countries of the setting - or perhaps because of the glimpse of history it offers, or maybe it was Shute's philosophy - but whatever it was, it grabbed me. A glimpse of the Asian world of post WWII, the growth a start-up aviation business the start of the middle East oil boom, the western world-view of Asia in 1945, and Neville Shute's philosophy of the the holy character of excellence in one's work, all meld together and produce an unusual, original story with memorable characters. It was an unexpected delight.

I had just read A Town Like Alice, also by Neville Shute, and wanted to explore some more of his work. Round the Bend is quite different, but both are excellent, satisfying stories.

3 people found this helpful

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an interesting story

I read Shute's beautiful book A Town Like Alice in 2018 and quickly fell in love. And although this book is wonderful, I didn't love it quite as much as the first. But Shute's prose is cool, simple and spare. He exposes his characters in a way that is quiet, subtle and slightly voyeuristic. I came away from both books feeling like I knew the people on their pages.

Round the Bend was written in 1951. It is the fictional autobiography of an airline entrepreneur named Tom Cutter. Tom begins his business in England when he purchases one small plane. He soon moves to Bahrain (then an English protectorate) where he builds an airfreight empire. Tom Cutter's life revolves around his business. He seems to do nothing else. He has no lover, no friends, no hobbies. He puts all of his money into the business and hires all the best people. Many of his pilots and crew chiefs are not white Europeans, and because of that the book is richer. It allows us to see glimpses of life for people of different races and religions in the same time, place and business. He has no interests other than his business, and he achieves success by pluck, unremitting hard work, sinking every penny back into the business, and hiring the best people as mechanics, engineers, and pilots, even if they aren't white Europeans.

Tom's friend and chief engineer is the quirkiest character in the book, and perhaps the true subject of the book. He is the impetus for the title of the book. He has gone "round the bend," and is in some sort of religious fervor. He is preachy and judgmental of his co-workers, and yet he is charismatic and interesting, which draws people to him. In the Mideast he attracts Muslims, in India he brings in Hindus, and Buddhists come to him in the far East. He seems a bit like a cult leader.

Tom is either barely aware or doesn't care. His focus is single-minded. He cares only about his aircraft. Unfortunately though, his friend is diagnosed with leukemia and dies. And this is when Tom seems to connect with the way his friend is viewed. A holy man, revered by a huge number of people. Tom is surprised, maybe even shocked, despite the fact that his friend has been gathering followers for quite some time.

Tom's naive surprise is the best part of the book for this reader because it demonstrates the change in his thinking. And by the end of the book the reader has also been transported to a place different than she was before beginning the book. Both reader and narrator are changed. That is the power of books.

2 people found this helpful

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What a pleasure

to have listened to this marvelous book, narrated expertly. My favourite audiobook is probably Shanteram and I'd put this one second.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautifully read

This has always been one of my favourite Nevil Shute novels and it was beautifully brought to life by John Telfer. Perfect accents throughout and a lovely mellow reading voice. He brought something extra to the book and I enjoyed it in a new way. Off to see what else he has narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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Moving, spiritual, perhaps wise

I very much appreciated the story, narrator and the thoughtfulness this audiobook has inspired in me.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Patrick
  • 03-05-11

Feels Good

This has to be my all time favourite Nevil Shute book though this is in part is due to its subject matter. I came across it rather unsuspectingly years ago when I had read most his other work and was completely astounded and uplifted by the originality of its story. It left me wishing that I too had lived through and experienced something similar myself, and in that sense it acted as an important waypoint on my own journey to the real thing. This book has the traditional feel good factor that one expects of a Nevil Shute though here it grows slowly but steadily through the book until it peaks at the very end.

It is not a book that will be to everyone's taste, I think. Firstly, the theme of the book will not attract those for whom religion or spirituality is not a wished for part of their life, and even then it will require a degree of open-mindedness to draw the most from it. Secondly, it is set in the austere days of post-war Britain and though as always Nevil Shute catches the mood so well, it is a world with few parallels to the hectic lives we live these days. Nostalgic it might be but there are also very occasional non-PC views expressed in the dialogue that can make you raise your eyebrows; however, if you take these to be an honest reflection of the signs of the times they will not detract from the tale.

Listening to the story again, read so well by John Telfer, I have discovered new joys that I had rather glossed over before. I do not wish to say too much about the story because I would like it to be the delightful surprise for the newcomer as it was for me. What I will say is that the philosophy of Shak Lin is generally on message and in keeping with the discourses of greatest teachers of our times. It is a book to be enjoyed and to be inspired by. Maybe it could be a waypoint for you too?

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • AReader
  • 02-15-13

Thought provoking and beautifully read

Nevil Shute writes good prose and good stories. His theme is often the triumph of human decency under pressure.



This story is very relevant to modern life. It concerns the meaning of everyday life and work, the moral challenges of new technology, and the corrupting power of money. You don't need to have any religious belief to find these things important to us now.The period setting is unfashionable at the moment but after all, all past periods are dated.



The reading is absolutely excellent with all the characters having their own voice and accent.



3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gery Lynch
  • 08-29-12

Outstanding

Beautifully transferred to audio. This is one of Shute's greatest novels a pleasure to read and to listen to, as the narration was first class.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Miko
  • 04-17-18

Beautifully captures the time and places

I was unsure if this would be for me as I’m not a particular fan of planes and am not a religious person, but I took a chance on it based on the reviews, the narrator, and the fact that I’ve liked a couple of Shute’s other works. I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed it. I found it engrossing; it beautifully captures so many places in the world in the post-WWII era and the characters are not only interesting and believable, but likeable (which may not be in keeping with today’s trend of anti-heroes, but to me was a breath of fresh air). I’m certain I’ll relisten to this again - very pleased with this addition to my audible library.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 05-15-16

This won't drive you 'Round the Bend.'

A surprisingly warm and engaging narrative voice, even if he’s a bluff air mechanic. The narrative shouldn’t really work, it is after all an account of a chartered air service and how the business thrives (mostly) but I was really caught up with Shute’s work and then when you add the religious and race elements, it really starts to jig along. I was also inspired to look into Shute’s own life, and I suspect his knowledge of this field brings a realism to the writing that I didn’t realise was there. A surprising hit.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Oryx Qatar
  • 12-12-19

Enthralling

I first stumbled across this book on a tourist boat (the irony) in New Zealand. I put the title on my wish list and then thought I would try the audio. It is brilliant because:
1. The narrator is so versatile and puts feeling into every word. I could listen to him read the phone directory if we still had them. Masterclass.
2. The story is engrossing with developed characters.
3. A slice of modern history with insights to the pre-boom of mass travel and oil exploitation of the Middle East.
4. Early aviation life.
5. To show how far we have come with our social attitudes.
6. I live in the Middle East and work in Aviation.
This book can be enjoyed on many different levels

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  • S. Simpson
  • 07-17-19

Not so widely known but well worth the read.

Adventure story/biography/moral and philosophical tale all rolled into onel. Excellent narration. Nevil Shute is well remembered from my youth but I hadn't read this one!

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  • vmt9028
  • 09-15-18

if You're Going Round The Bend Can I come too?

I thought that this would be a funny book because of the title. When I saw the title it made me think of the above saying. This brings a new meaning to the saying 'never judge a book by its cover'. One credit wasted.

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  • Peter
  • 02-05-20

A strange gem

This starts off as the story of a simple Brit guided almost by accident into building an aviation empire in Bahrain. The workmanlike ploddings of his early career take a turn though into something much more interesting, unique and moving. I've never read a book quite like it, and it is great to hear, albeit from a stumbling and sometimes awkward Anglo perspective, of life and religion in an underrepresented time and place - the dying days of empire in the East.