‘A Town Like Alice’ – Nevil Shute (Review)

‘A Town Like Alice’ is constructed with the most unpretentious writing I have ever encountered. It is simple, readable, and completely engrossing. Using a strong female lead and a rugged Aussie rancher, Shute bonds this pair of foreigners in tense and tragic circumstances, to be united once more in a barren land unfamiliar to the heroine, Jean.

Nevil paints a fascinating and honest picture of the Australian outback and the attitudes that mark our racial and economic history. When the two characters become romantically inclined, swiftness certainly left me sceptic. But due to the remaining length of story, the author allows himself time to develop and nurture this relationship into believability.

Reading this, I had a sense of continually waiting for an epic catastrophe, as is so usual in modern fiction. When this didn’t arrive, I felt pleased, both for Jean and Harman and for myself, perhaps due to the emotional drainage experienced in the first half.

I’d reread, I’d recommend, I’d purchase and I do admire.

Five stars.


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