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Most Secret Hardcover – June 20, 1976

4.6 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A magnificent thrill; it is also a tale of character, for every member of the little ship's company is worth meeting. A book that should not be missed Daily Telegraph Mr Shute's style is ideal for this kind of book. He revels in incident and he draws his people with loving care. Here, he's reminiscent of H. E. Bates at his best; that same ability to make you passionately interested in anything he's interested in, and to make the most outlandish happening seem credible his characters are so real No other writer has brought to fiction of this type quite the same lively sympathy and warmth of imagination or left so engaging an impression of truthfulness...Mr Shute always has good things to offer...the power to convey the springs of heroic conduct in the lightest and least assuming of tones Times Literary Supplement Based around a group aboard a converted trawler in 1942, this is a grand tale of sacrifice and courage and superbly structured. --Express

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).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Queens House (June 20, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0685661938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0685661932
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,891,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael T Kennedy VINE VOICE on November 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a war time novel that I had not read before. I have been reading Neville Shute's novels for many years but had missed this one. It is excellent. The story is told in the same way he did "A Town Like Alice and "No Highway." He is the outsider looking at the characters from his passive role as observer. In the novel, the narrator is an older naval officer who becomes involved in a Special Operations action in Brittany. The other characters are young men and women and their lives and relationships are a large part of the story. This is extremely well done. One of them, a young industrial chemist, is similar to the character in "No Highway." He is totally alone and shrinks from contact with girls as he is certain he will mess it up. Another character grows up with the young woman who will become his wife. One of the most interesting, Charles Simon, is born British but lives almost his entire life in France except for his schooling. He, on an impulse, volunteers to be a British officer when a commando raid happens to find him at a seaside cafe during a raid. His character and the circumstances remind me of the Helen MacInnes novel Assignment in Brittany. The Bretons are fiercely independent and resisted the Germans more than most in 1940 France. They are still quite proud of their heritage, as I learned two summers ago when I inadvertently referred to a small hotel in Brittany as being Norman. I was firmly corrected. The adventure is good, although a bit bloodthirsty for some so many years after the war. The best part is the character development, which has always been the best feature of Neville Shute's novels.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Neville Shute's books often seem to start with a rather boring ordinary person narrating rather boring ordinary events in far too much detail. This goes on for a while until you notice that you are totally hooked on the characters and that mixed in with the boring events are some quite extraordinary ones. This is a strange experience if you are used to more modern novels, where events occur at a breakneck pace, but Shute was a master of the art of planting a hook so slowly and gently that you hardly know it is happening, and it leaves his stories feeling truer, and his characters feeling realer. "Most Secret" is a fine example of this format, a mundane wartime narrative that ends up gripping you. As other reviewers are said, you wind up very involved with these characters.

But there is something else interesting going on here. This is also a curious portrait of civilized hatred. Every single English and Breton character hates each and every individual German with a deep and consuming fierceness. Even priests and doctors thrill with anticipation at the thought of German soldiers being burnt alive or spending weeks slowly dieing from untreatably infected burns. The characters all have reasons for their hatred, and I believe it is a historically accurate depiction of how those people at that time felt, but it is curious to encounter such vicious hatred in such sympathetic characters. These days we civilians are so insulated from the wars our country fights that we have little emotional involvement and this all looks strange to us, but I think there is a deep human truth in it that is a bit uncomfortable to run up against.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read it many, many times. The characters are very believable (you will feel as though you have met people like them), and the suspense buildup is managed brilliantly. The ending, though poignant, is superb.
About as good a war tale as you can get -- the plot is fast-paced, always developing. No wasted words. This book proves that good war tales can be told without lasping into profanity and gore -- neither of which are used by Shute.
As with other Shute books, it is written from the viewpoint of a detached observer to the main tale -- a technique he has used rather well in other books.
Read _Most Secret_ once and I guarantee you will never look upon fishing boats or Worcester Sauce in quite the same way.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nevil Shute is one of my favorite writers. Although he's best known for two fine novels -- A Town Like Alice and On the Beach -- he produced a number of other gems during his prolific career. Most Secret is one of them.

War plays a role, large or small, in many of Shute's novels. Most Secret was first published in 1945; the action begins in 1941. Bombs are raining down on London and England is fully engaged in the war. Three of the four main characters are in the Royal Navy. They devise and carry out an ingenious plan to attack a German ship off the coast of France. But while Most Secret can be accurately categorized as a war story, it's much more than that. Shute is one of the few writers who successfully blended character-oriented fiction with a plot-driven story. Ultimately, he wrote about people; not just their actions, but the impact those actions had on their lives. War has tragic consequences; death and sorrow are usually present in Shute's novels. It's difficult to read them with dry eyes. That's certainly true of Most Secret.

I don't need to like the characters in order to enjoy a novel, but that's never an issue with Nevil Shute. He nearly always wrote about decent, likable people who cope with catastrophe with their dignity intact. Most Secret introduces the reader to Oliver Boden, the carefree son of a wool-spinner, who marries his childhood sweetheart shortly before joining the Navy, the natural outgrowth of his love of sailing.
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