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Round the Bend Paperback – January 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"A story which grips and fascinates, a story enriched by the observation and understanding which have made Shute's work outstanding" Scotsman "He holds attention to the last page" Daily Telegraph "So convincingly does Shute tell the story and so cleverly does he leave the character of Shaklin deliberately vague that the book is as absorbing as anything he has written, and Cutter one of his finest creations" Glasgow Herald --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: House of Stratus Ltd (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842322893
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842322895
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,036,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nevil Shute Norway was born in 1899 in Ealing, London. He studied Engineering Science at Balliol College, Oxford. Following his childhood passion, he entered the fledgling aircraft industry as an aeronautical engineer working to develop airships and, later, airplanes. In his spare time he began writing and he published his first novel, Marazan, in 1926, using the name Nevil Shute to protect his engineering career. In 1931 he married Frances Mary Heaton and they had 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 in 1960. His most celebrated novels include Pied Piper (1942), A Town Like Alice (1950), and On the Beach (1957).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gary M. Greenbaum on July 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Tom Cutter, tired after World War II and the loss of his wife (he blames himself for her suicide), comes to the Persian Gulf to begin a small-scale aviation business. He throws himself into the business and makes a success of it. The business really takes off after he hires childhood friend Connie Shaklin as chief engineer, and soon after, Connie's sister Nadezna, as his secretary. But Cutter soon notices--Shaklin is giving semi-religious talks as he works, which are attracting attention and support not only from his co-workers, but from the Arab population, as they previously did in Cambodia, and when Shaklin is forced to go to Indonesia, again, he attracts attention and support, somewhat to the confusion of Cutter, who nevertheless is unfailing in his support of Shaklin, who seems to be beginning a religion that crosses religious boundaries.
Shute's most thought provoking of novels, as a new prophet arises in the form of an aviation engineer who adamantly denies he is a prophet, somewhat to the confusion of his friend and his sister.
Even the small characters (a gunrunner who, in seeing Shaklin and his work, is reminded of the small town and church in the Midwest where he grew up, for example) are finely drawn. And Shute often gets rather subtle--Cutter, whose first name is Thomas, three times denies Shaklin's divinity in a talk with the British officer, Captain Morrison.
Beautiful and gentle work by a master storyteller. You will look for villians in vain in this book. His best.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. Hicks on November 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm not entirely sure that there is a "typical" Shute book, but this one is both typical and atypical. It is typical in that it is mostly about post-WWII era aircraft operations, and rather more intense on the aircraft angle than most of his other books. Also, like several of his other books, it pokes about at the meaning of morality.
On the atypical side, "Round the Bend" is somewhat alegorical and "preachy" in the same sense as "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". In fact, I'd be willing to bet that Robert Pirsig read "Round the Bend" before he wrote "Zen".
Folks comfortable with Shute's writing will find that "Round the Bend" has his trademark writing style -- spartan, yet with a delicious amount of descriptive detail, intense, yet without an identifiable climax. As usual, he's not given to plot twists, but rather focuses on the development of human character and the way it plays out under unusual circumstances.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By episkyros on March 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Round the Bend" is an adventure book that will take you with the protagonist through the pioneering atmosphere of early aviation, from the daredevil "barnstorming" era through early commercial aviation. In this book, Nevil Shute has a lot to say about the importance of finding your calling and doing good work. Besides eating, drinking, sleeping, and relating to loved ones, work is a fundamental dimension of human life, well captured by Shute in his portrayal of people's motivations, the conventional wisdom, and an encounter with a not-so-conventional attitude toward work in general that has promising implications for story characters and readers alike.
I first read this book at university, in a political theory course that read twentieth-century novels (as well as important essays) as a springboard for discussion of the best way to live in society (the ancient problem of reconciling the One and the Many). This book gives an intriguing vision of how impersonal society at work becomes a dedicated community through devotion to good work. Just as importantly, such devotion is individually enriching: airplane maintenance, and all good work in general is, at a deeper level, soul work.
A truly marvellous, inspirational story.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This novel captures the romance of the age of aviation. Shute adds to it with a twist of universal religious experience. As the airplane ushers in a reduced sized world, Shaklin offers a reduced sized, compressed overview of the religious experience and becomes the guru of the Fifties. With today's focus on the Persian Gulf, this snapshot from past adds flavor to our knowledge of the area through Tom Cutter's eyes. This is a book that that will leave you with a glow.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael T Kennedy VINE VOICE on December 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every time, almost, I read another Neville Shute novel, I come to the conclusion that it is the best of them all. That can't be true every time, of course, but this time it might be. I may be getting sentimental as I get older; I know that Mr Shute did so. Trustee from the Toolroom was his last novel and was published after his death. It is probably the most sentimental of his books but this one, in a rather different way, is next. The story is of Tom Cutter, a young man who loves aviation from his first contact with it as a boy. He was working as a garage mechanic when a flying circus came to his home town of Southhampton, England. He spends two days helping them with washing the airplanes and, as they are leaving, he asks for a permanent job. They have no spot for him but he travels on his own to their next stop and helps with odd jobs until the owner finally offers him a job for the season as a sort of clown, driving around with another young man in an old Ford while the stunt fliers do mock bombing and strafing. The other young man, a bit older, is named Connie Shaklin and most of the book is about Tom and Connie in their later lives in the airline business in the Near East.

Tom serves in the war, learns to fly but is mostly a ground mechanic. After the war, he gets the idea to buy an old surplus airplane and take it to the Persian Gulf area to haul cargo around for oil companies. He flies to Bahrain and sets up shop in an inactive RAF station. He hires, unusual for an Englishman, all native workers, many of them veterans of the recent war who had served in the British Army. They are content with lower salaries and he can keep his rates low.
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