A Town Like Alice

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Author: Nevil Shute

Published in: 1950

Age Range: Young Teens+

Period: Mid 20th C

Genres:  ClassicRomanticWar


Jean Paget a young Englishwoman who speaks Malay is caught in Malaysia when the Japanese invade. She travels with an ever-decreasing group of other women and children in the same situation, unwanted by the Japanese authorities, until they settle down in a native village for the remainder of the war. During this time she meets an Australian PoW who steals for them, is caught and crucified as a punishment. After the war when she inherits some money she goes to look for him at the same time that he comes to look for her. They meet in Australia near the cattle ranch where he works and she sets about improving the town before they marry.


Overall the story is one of struggle and perseverance, generosity and friendship and finally love. My only quibble comes when the two meet again and go for a weekend to a beautiful secluded island where they are both clearly attracted to each other and while his behaviour is “beyond reproach” she, attempting to catalyse the situation, dresses so as to provoke his attraction and while resisting him physically tells him that if he really wants to make physical love, they needn't wait to marry.

Tuesday 1st January 2002