3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The book we all used to love...,
This review is from: A Town Like Alice (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
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. Now we're
seventeen"-says the heroine, Jean Paget to Joe Harman, at their first,
tragic encounter on a road in Malaya.
Nevil Shute continues his beautiful story in the aftermath
of the war. The Forties and the Fifties, when everything was
still possible for people with courage and initiative, like
Jean and Joe. When people like them could still develop
a small community, lost in the middle of the
australian desert into a flourishing town: a town like Alice
Springs.You never forget this novel about courage, love
and miraculous survival.
Elisheva Guggenheim-Mohosh, Geneva, Switzerland