A New Book Group Frontier

Nevil Shute - A Town Like AliceI’ve just been asked if I’d like to join my book group at work. I said yes partly because I think that it would be a great way to get to know people better (and they all seem really nice), and also because the choice this month is Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice which I keep on hearing good things about. In fact it is on the reader’s choice of The 100 Best Novels List I blogged about earlier. I’m already a member of 2 other book groups, but as I read lots I’m hoping it won’t be too difficult to keep up. Well I guess I’ll get a feel for it and see how it goes. I’ll be popping into Copperfields at lunch to see if I can get a nice well thumbed copy of A Town Like Alice if not, I’ve seen one on eBay with a fabulous cover (left)!

Has anyone read A Town Like Alice or anything else by Neville Shute? How many book groups are you a member of? Are you oversubscribed or do you like the challenge and variety that being a member of a book group brings?

25 responses to “A New Book Group Frontier

  1. In my humble opinion A Town Like Alice should be considered the very best novel of all time.
    and the Australian 5 hour miniseries from 1981 starring Bryan Brown ranks as probably the very best adaptation of a novel ever made and it is well worth tracking down the VHS tape or the (unofficial) rare DVD. beyond that there are a great group of international “Shutists” many of whom (myself included) admit to reading and reread all 25 of Nevil’s novels (yes they are that good!!).Much more information may be found on the “Foundation” website at:-

  2. Anyone who is interested can go to the above website.. and click on “Discussion group” and join our lively Nevil Shute book group.

  3. John R. Douglas

    A fellow fan of Nevil Shute sent a link of this post to a Nevil Shute fan group that I’m a member of.

    I’m a lifelong reader of Shute’s work and have read pretty much everything I could lay me hands on. I personally guarantee that you’ll enjoy this novel and I feel safe in predicting that you’ll want to read more by him. This is one of his besy-known books (because of a TV adaptation a decade and more ago) and it’s among my personal favorites although not at the top of the list.

    I just recently joined a group that meets every three months to discuss a Nevil Shute novel (working through them in the order of publication over a period of years) but other than that I don’t belong to any book groups so I can’t offer any relevant comment on book group participation.

    I’m a pretty omnivorous reader and just happen to truly love Shute’s work, along with many other writers.

    Hope you take the plunge and give him a try. You won’ t be disappointed.

    John Douglas

    • John, thank you for your thoughts. Perhaps this one will inspire me to read more and find out as you say which are his other interesting works!

  4. I have never heard of Neville Shute before – I llok forward to hearing all about it!

  5. This response replaces one I made yesterday that got lost presumably whilst being moderated
    Far too few people have heard of Nevil Shute and even less of Neville Shute.In my humble opinion A Town Like Alice should be rated the very best novel ever written and the second movie version,the 1981 Australian mini series starring Bryan Brown was probably the very best adaptation of a novel ever made.
    I belong to a large international group of “Shutists”,many of whom (myself included) admit to constantly reading and rereading each of Nevil’s 25 superbly written novels
    Full details of his life and work and a series of biennial gatherings plus a few local groups are presented on the “Foundation” website at:-

    I hope this second attempt passes muster
    John Fowles (born in Dorset,England,now in New Jersey)
    There is natirally a Shute section on my own website

  6. OK ,not OK,
    When I looked earlier my posting from yesterday was strangely missing. Now it has surfaced so I must apologise for the duplication. However I have to say that the moderation of this blog is either totally unnecccesary or extremely lethargic (or both) it is now over 24 hours (at 4PM EST since my first attempt at 2.44PM yesterday yet
    apparently “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”
    And Jackie’s comment made far later at 10:20 this morning has
    passed muster it seems.
    Come on people wake up!!!!

    • I’ve just edited this reply as my first version was a bit of a grumpy response (!). I did read your first comment and appreciated what you said, having read it on my mobile but wasn’t near a desktop so didn’t have a chance to reply or moderate. Jackie’s comment was approved because she has visited my blog before an contributed and is therefore automatically approved. I do appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and comment, however I hope that you can take into consideration that this blog is something I write in my spare time and so I don’t promise comments will be approved to any specific timescale. I do my best to check and reply frequently however.

  7. I love this novel and Nevil Shute is my favorite author. This is the first book I ever read written by him and I usually re-read it every year. It’s wonderful as are all of Shute’s works. I hope you enjoy it!

  8. Wowsers three!!! Am impressed. i have always wanted to give A Town Called Alice a go. My Gran has the exact copy of it you have pictured and has since my time began. I used to think it was a book about my Aunty Alice… honest!

    • Yes, we’ll have to see how that goes, but luckily I’m not trying to read the man booker list like some 🙂 That’s so funny that your Gran owns the copy that I love the cover of!

  9. I have also heard many great things about A Town Like Alice, along with other Shute novels.

    You may be interested in this recent post by Verity:


    Vintage have reissued Shute books recently with lovely covers and are also offering print-on-demand copies of his lesser-known works.

    I am a member of two book groups, one with you and another, but I don’t think I am oversubscribed; I may call it there though as another may be a struggle with the unrealistic amount of books I set out to read each month!

    See you Thursday.

    • Oh I’m looking forward to Thurs! So interested to hear what everyone thought of Voice Over.
      Thanks for the link, I’ll head over there now! And if i can’t get that ebay one then I might go for a Vintage, I just checked and they are rather nice… and as for unrealistic amounts of books I guess it’s always nice to aim high!

  10. I do hope that more book lovers will visit the Nevil Shute web page. there is a plethora of book lore for ALL to enjoy.

    He was truly an amazing man and author, and his novels cover a rainbow of subjects, from engineering to Eastern religions

  11. A new member at the Nevil Shute discussion group has just posted this very relevant question possibly concerning the novel A Town Like Alice (which he/she used as the subject of the posting)
    “Does anyone have good questions for discussion by a book club? ”
    To which I have replied:-
    Hi Linda and/or Paul welcome to the discussion group

    To open the discussion on this subject I have to say that the obvious question for you from this group is “are the questions to your book club to be about A Town Like Alice in particular or Nevil Shute in general”?? I see that Haken has already decided the latter
    If the former may I suggest that you ask your book club members to read the novel then discuss whether the story of the enforced trek by the group of ladies and children is at all likely to have been a historical fact or entirely a brilliant work of fiction?
    Beyond that the same consideration about the crucifiction of Joe Harmon
    and upon which town in Queensland could the fictional town of Willstown have been based
    Hint a quick reading of Chapter 8 “Travelling hopefully” (Pages 96 through 103) in Julian Smith’s biography (available on line at http://www.juliansmith.notlong.com) might provide interesting reading and the complete answers to these and many other questions about Nevil Shute and his works

  12. I have read about 4 or 5 Shute novels and have really enjoyed all of them. I look forward to working my way through the rest of his books. He is a master of plot and they move forward a very efficiently. Kind of like the clipped dialog in a 1940s film where no sentence is wasted and gets right to the point. Not a lot of introspection or uncertainty.

    In high school I read On The Beach, my first Shute novel. It is such a compelling story, espeically back in the Cold War 1980s that I found myself trying to get through the final 30 pages through heavy tears. The film version with a young, handsome Tony Perkins (Psycho) is also worth a look.

    • I’m halfway through now (lots of reading b4 my bookgroup tomorrow!!) and I love it so far. You are spot on about his writing style, and I think I’ll definitely want to read more of his work.

  13. I just realized that I made almost identical comments on Verity’s website. I think turning 40 has addled my brain.

  14. I’m currently reading Julian Smith’s bio of Nevil Shute.. and I must admit it’s a bit of a bore!

    Either Shute’s life was rather dull or he deserves a better biographer.

  15. I wish to amend my opinion on Smith’s bio of Nevil Shute. I slogged through to the end.. and finally decided it was well worth the read.

  16. Thomas remarked “Not a lot of introspection or uncertainty.” That may be true but Shute’s books do give you the opportunity to engage in introspection, rather than telling you all about it. However “Round the Bend,” one of his classics, is written from the point of view of a busy entrepreneur who details the fantastic story of an aircraft ground engineer -his boyhood chum and later employee – with a unique gift. The narrator has his own weight of regret and guilt, which you are left to evaluate for yourself.
    Similarly, “The Rainbow and the Rose,” at the same time a history of early aviation and a doomed romance, uses a device like an early version of magic realism to get the narrator inside the mind of the main character to examine his petty marriage and glorious adultery. Shute’s books certainly make you think, long after you finally put them down.

  17. Pingback: Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice « Novel Insights

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s