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A Town Like Alice Mass Market Paperback – October 12, 1987

4.2 out of 5 stars 614 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A harrowing, exciting, and in the end very satisfying war romance. --Harper's --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

"A harrowing, exciting, and in the end very satisfying war romance."
HARPER'S
A TOWN LIKE ALICE tells of a young woman who miraculously survived a Japanese "death march" in World War II, and of an Australian soldier, also a prisoner of war, who offered to help her--even at the cost of his life....
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345353749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345353740
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (614 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,095,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gary M. Greenbaum on July 2, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Too few of Nevil Shute's books are in print in this country--fortunately, this is one of the better one.
When an old Scottish man dies, London solicitor Noel Strachan learns that his sole heir is a young woman named Jean Paget. Strachan acts as her trustee, dispensing money as needed under the will, but the old lawyer soon finds himself falling for the young lady. Before Strachan has done more than shown her London's culture, Paget is off to Malaya to repay the village where she stayed during WWII by digging a well. She convinces Strachan to release the money by telling the story (based on real life) of how she and other women were held prisoner by the Japanese, but eventually found refuge in a small village. Before they go there, they encounter a young Australian, Joe Harmon, who is crucified for stealing food for them. When Paget returns to Malaya, she learns that Harmon survived and returned to Australia. Meanwhile, Harmon has gone to England to seek her, having thought she was married when they met in Malaya. They eventually meet up in Australia (Strachan, out of his own love for Jean, has gently attempted to frustrate the meeting). Jean, determined to make her home in Harmon's home area, sets out to make the godforsaken town into "A Town Like Alice"--a modern town like Alice Springs.
It is a fascinating story. But overlooked in every review I read is the role of the old solicitor, Noel Strachan, who finds himself in love with Jean some decades too late, and is unable to serve as a rival to Joe Harmon. He soon surrenders his unexpressed (even to himself) love out of regard for Jean's interest. His unrequited love, lends a poignant note to the book.
There are no villains.
Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a reader; I devour books. A Town Like Alice is one of my very favorites. I come back to it time and again, whenever I need to lose myself in the heat of Malaysia or the dust of Australia. This book is so well written that I can feel the stones in the road as Jean marches along with the other women in their "Death March". I can feel the despair she feels when she believes Joe to be dead and her intense joy when she discovers that he is still alive. The story is timeless. My mother-in-law,who was a bride during World War II, first introduced me to this book saying that it was her all time favorite, and even though I came of age in the 70's, the book speaks to me as well. Its message of love's survival in the face of desperate odds gives us all a sense of hope.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
When asked what is my favorite book I always respond that I have two. The first is "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, and the second is "A Town Like Alice" by Nevil Shute. I've recommended it to many people over the years and I haven't found one person yet that could put it down. It's a true classic, one that I've enjoyed over and over. Shute's better known "On The Beach" is as good as "A Town Like Alice" but it is much darker in content. "Alice" is a sweet love story that spans time and distance. If you haven't read it yet do yourself a favor, pick it up, sit down in a comfy chair and enjoy.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This classic of literature takes place on three continents. It involves history, geography, travel, adventure, misery, joy, evil, and love. He creates marvelous three-dimensional characters. Even the countryside is like another character, because it's so full and important to the story. I first discovered this story on PBS's "Masterpiece Theater" and that production was true to the book. The video (of that production) and the audiotape are also excellent. I had tears in my eyes when it came to an end, wanting it to go on and on. A completely satisfying book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having spent time in the Australian outback in the 1960's, I found this book (read several years later) to be the ONLY story I've EVER read that captures the true character, lifestyle, and sense of the Australian people. The story woven around World War II and and the subsequent re-uniting of the main characters years later, makes this novel compelling and impossible to put down. The PBS series Masterpiece Theatre aired this story in the late 1970's and was an excellent portrayal of Shute's work. The two-volume video, while shortening the PBS work considerably, is still an enjoyable viewing experience.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a beautifully written story, cleverly and very poignantly told from the point of view of a 70-something man - a careful, considerate London solicitor who is the trustee (with broad discretionary powers) of a will that leaves a considerable sum of money (but not a lump sum, due to the conditions of the will) to a young woman.
Jean Paget is that young woman, and she is an extraordinary person, making her story very compelling reading.
The weaving of the threads of her life - her WWII experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese in Malaya; her fateful encounter with Australian Joe Harmon; the inheritance that allows her to leave the mundane working world; her interaction with solicitor Noel Strachan; and her search for her true destiny - is done in the most masterful way.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is deeply satisfying reading. It is everything a novel should be.
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