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A Town Like Alice [Paperback]

Nevil Shute
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Sep 2000
Jean Paget has survived World War II as a prisoner of the Japanese in Malaya. After the war she comes into an inheritance that enables her to return to Malaya to repay the villagers who helped her to survive. But her return visit changes her life again, when she discovers that an Australian soldier she thought had died has survived. She goes to Australia in search of him and of the town he described to her. Jean sets out to apply the same determination that helped her to survive the war, to turning the community into 'a town like Alice'. She finds both her soldier and romance.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 359 pages
  • Publisher: House of Stratus; New edition edition (18 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842323008
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842323007
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 456,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nevil Shute Norway was born on 17 January 1899 in Ealing, London. After attending the Dragon School and Shrewsbury School, he studied Engineering Science at Balliol College, Oxford. He worked as an aeronautical engineer and published his first novel, Marazan, in 1926. In 1931 he married Frances Mary Heaton and they went on to have two daughters. During the Second World War he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve where he worked on developing secret weapons. After the war he continued to write and settled in Australia where he lived until his death on 12 January 1960. His most celebrated novels include Pied Piper (1942), No Highway (1948), A Town Like Alice (1950) and On the Beach (1957).

Product Description


"This direct, simply told story is about honest, dogged virtues, at least as redolent of its era as street parties or 'We'll Meet Again'" (The Times)

"A Town like Alice is the most romantic book I've ever read...Jean's determination to survive is inspirational, and the love she finds later is beautiful" (Catherine Tate Mail on Sunday)

"A ripping tale of budding romance and grace under pressure" (The Times)

"A heart-rending tale of torture, human fortitude and forbearance, inhumanity and hardship" (Sunday Times)

"That supreme storyteller, Nevil Shute...I could hardly bear to put the book down. I read it voraciously for days" (May Lovell The Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Probably more people have shed tears over the last page of A Town Like Alice than about any other novel in the English language... remarkable' John Ezard, Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 101 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Abridged Version - Beware! 5 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
(This review is for the 'Vintage Shute' / Eric Lomax edition published September 2009, with a silhouette on the cover).
I bought this book for myself to replace a long lost copy, and looked forward to reading it again. I am so disappointed that so much has been removed from this copy, especially as it is described as a 'vintage classic' - I fail to understand how something can be described thus when it has been so altered. I'm irritated that it hasn't been described anywhere as being abridged. There really must be about a quarter of the book missing and it ends quite suddenly. I am writing to Amazon to suggest that they make it clear that this copy has been abridged because there really is absolutely no reason for it to be. I want to read a book as it has been written - I don't need somebody else to decide that I don't really need to read great chunks of it!!
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable classic 18 Jan 2001
By Christine L HALL OF FAME
I have just re-read this book for the umpteenth time and I still love it as much as I did after reading it the first time. One of the really powerful features of this book is the fact that although the book is fiction, the foundation of the story is based on the experience of countless women and children who found themselves captured by the Japanese during World War 2.
I'd say that this book has everything. It's a book about remarkable survival and remarkable people. It's an adventure book. It's a love story. The characters are very sympathetic and you can't help liking them and hoping that they find happiness. It's one of the few books I've read that I've actually wanted a sequel to.
For a man of his generation I also think that Mr Shute wrote about Jean Paget with an insight that's second to none. I'm well impressed.
On a whole, it's a very well written page-turner that I thoroughly enjoy every time I pick it up.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful entrancing and yet down to earth. 19 Jan 2006
I have read and reread this book over many years. Once you become a fan of Nevil Shute you will want to read all his books. Take it on holiday and give it your all. Let yourself be submersed in the period; a different age to now with a different style of hero. This story is of ordinary people, with an extrarordinary tale to tell. A meeting of 2 people, both victims of the Japanese, who fall in love under the harshest of conditions and then do it all over again, 6 years later when the war is over. Read it more than once to get the full benefit.And then go onto read more from the famous author, who had so many qualities and gifts. How could he be an engineer, serve in secret operations in the war, be a sailor and a pilot and go on long distance air ship travel, as well as write all these novels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book we all used to love... 30 Jun 2013
Of course this book is a "vintage classic": a love
story between an English girl and an Australian
POW, starting in wartime Malaya and blooming, much later,
in a small australian desert town... There are also two incredibly
romantic film and TV adaptations that, like Nevil
Shute's book,(first published in 1950) had a worldwide
audience and a very big success...

So why do I review now, in 2013? Because I've just read and reviewed
Kate Furnivall's "The White Pearl", published last year. Also about wartime
Malaya and the devastation and suffering that the japanese
invasion caused, to natives and British colonists alike. Also
about a love story that leads us from Malaya to Australia.But
there stops the resemblance.If Furnivall describes the white colonists'
suffering on board of "The White Pearl",( a luxury yacht navigating
in the South -Seas, fleeing the japanese planes' bombs)
as being sometimes quite leisurely, Nevil Shute's description of
British women's and children's death-march in the malayan jungle,
is simply terrible.

What most people did not know before reading "A Town
Like Alice" is that the main problem of white women in japanese-
occupied Malaya was not their internment in prisoners camps.
Their tragedy was that there were no camps for them.
They were sent wandering hundreds of miles across the jungle,
from one part of Malaya to another, looking
for a place to sleep, searching for food and medicine, dying
from illness and exhaustion together with their children.
"There were thirty two of us when we were taken.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading at its best! 7 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Again a book I have not read for some 40 years and again one I find that has lost nothing of its charm and appeal over the years. A gripping tale of the relationship between three people whistfully recounted by one of them, concerning the brief wartime acquainatnce and subsequent post war romance between the other two. Shute can be a bit 'clunky' in style from time to time but I found this not to be the case in this instance. For me the story flows as it unfolds and its main characters develop into truly believable people. ( I may be a bit influenced by the excellent film that was made of this book). Never-the-less I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone searching for a very well told story of human relationships with a happy ending.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning
Read it!
Published 11 days ago by C E Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A well received gift!
Published 12 days ago by Louise
5.0 out of 5 stars great
This is a good book that I read at school some 50 years ago and glad to have read it again.
Published 16 days ago by cadtrainer
3.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming but corny
I read 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. Read more
Published 20 days ago by hfffoman
4.0 out of 5 stars A bloody good read
The first part of the story is taken up with the fictional Jean Paget’s leadership of a group of Englishwomen who were captured by the Japanese in Malaya, but since there were no... Read more
Published 25 days ago by jiffybooks
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good reading
Published 27 days ago by john brittain
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Nevil Shute story
Published 1 month ago by Raymond C Butler
5.0 out of 5 stars an author everyone should read
i first read NEVIL SHUTE classics 50 years ago, and out fo curiousity i find them to be just as good today.
Published 1 month ago by john simmons
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It
Chose this book from a top 100 list after finishing another excellent read so there was alot of pressure to be better than my last book! I really enjoyed it - couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Miss G L Code
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
Very readable The story keeps you wanting to know what is next. The story flows and pulls you in Makes the characters matter.
Published 1 month ago by John H Anderson
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