|Nevil Shute - 17 Jan 1899/ 12 Jan 1960|
|Number 2 All-Time favourite|
This was what I had to say after the last time I read the book, Jan 2011, "2. On the Beach by Nevil Shute (published in 1957). I have read this book 3 or 4 times and never tire of it. It is probably the best 'end-of-the-world' stories I've ever read and that is a genre that I enjoy very much. It's such a classic and as I mentioned with my other Nevil Shute story, he is one of the best story - tellers ever. No matter what the situation, he presents people gently, demonstrating them to be loving, heroic and thoughtful. He writes such wonderful stories and having most recently read another of his stories, The Far Country, which was one of my Top Tens for 2013, I look forward to reading even more. This is my Goodread's reviews of the book, pretty basic for such an excellent book, "One of my top ten favourite books. I've read it so many times and also seen the movie with Gregory Peck a few times. So low key, yet it's the end of the world. US submarine in Australia, trying to see if there is any life in the Northern hemisphere. Life in Australia as the end draws near. US submarine makes final voyage to US. Truly fantastic story. (added after most recent read) Having read this again, it's still a great story, what a powerful lesson to teach mankind. So depressing, ultimately, but told with class."
|Number 10 on my All-Time List|
These two books remain all-time favourites. Recently, because of my enjoyment of rereading these stories, I've finally begun to explore Shute's other writings. I honestly don't know why I didn't do this before, maybe they were so good that I was afraid that I might discover that his other stories didn't live up to them. Well, guess what! I was wrong if that was my thinking.
This was the review I wrote for The Far Country - "In its way, it's a relatively simple story, but I love Shute's style. He tells a story gently, lovingly and at the same time, matter-of-factly (Is that a proper word? :0)). At its core it's a love story, but it represents its time as well. Set after WWII, England is struggling to feed its people, life is hard; whereas in counterpoint, in Australia, the frontier so to speak, life is pretty good, wool prices are high, money is good, there is work available. Helen goes to Australia at the request of her auntie, who thinks Australia might represent England more from her time in the early 1900s. Helen visits with an Aunt and her family, meets Carl, a Czech doctor, who works in the forest as a lumberman (as a Displaced Person from the war) he must work where the Australians let him for 2 years as a sort of payment for being allowed to live in Australia. He can then work towards getting his Doctor's certificate. The two meet under very interesting circumstances, a friendship/ relationship develops. This is the simple story, but there is so much more. Shute doesn't get involved in the politics of the time, other than in the background as it affects peoples' lives, but he does present an excellent picture of the time, contrasting life in England and Australia very nicely and very simply. It's a lovely story, not one I would have picked earlier in my life I don't think, but the more I read Nevil Shute's stories (two of my all-time favourites are his, On the Beach and Pied Piper) the more I enjoy his writing and the more of his books I want to read. Highly recommended."
I have read other Shute books since, including An Old Captivity (1940) probably my least favourite so far and So Disdained (1928), which I mentioned in my initial comments. These were my thoughts on So Disdained, "This is one of Nevil Shute's earlier works, written in 1928, and even with his early writings, you can see his unique story - telling style. The story is set during this time frame, between the wars and there were many interesting bits of history (assuming he was using a true perspective) that I really wasn't all the knowledgeable about. For one is the tension between England and Soviet Russia; the story involves Russian spying on English military facilities. As well, at one point, the main character, Peter Moran, must enlist the assistance of Italians to help a friend from the Communists and he asks for the help of the Fascists; interesting that they might be considered an ally, considering the events of WWII. The story is typical Nevil Shute, telling the story of a man, relatively mild and even-keeled, who is put in a situation that forces him to make decisions that become heroic, even though he doesn't feel them to be heroic. I love the way Shute lays out his stories, introduces his characters, introduces concepts of patriotism or heroism without preaching but at the same time making you think about what they are and what they mean. He is a story - teller, one of the best and it was enjoyable to read one of his early ones and see how his style developed as he came to write my favourites of his later works." Once again, we find normal people thrust into situations that require decisions, heroic ones, that they make easily and without question. I think that's what I like most, the people don't let any personal issues stop them from making decisions that will help people in need, in fact, their personal issues are not really highlighted or made much of. They are normal, decent, relatively happy people, which is a change from so many mystery and adventure stories that are so popular these days; the anti-hero with a past, who blasts his way through tough situations. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy reading those stories just as well, but they don't strike a chord with me as much as the stories I mentioned above.
|Donna Leon's - Inspector Brunetti|
Anyway, I've begun to ramble somewhat, but my point is that Nevil Shute and the others mentioned should be explored; they are true story-tellers and, if you try them, you'll enjoy being pulled into their communities.