Book review, A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute

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Having a book loaned to you by a friend is special. When a person loans you a book they think you will enjoy, they are matching the wealth of their own experience with their understanding of you. This was loaned from a critique partner who is a very special kind of friend. A critique partner knows what is closest to a writer’s heart, because she knows what the writer is writing about and therefore passionate about.

My friend and her husband worked hard to find the book in the shelves of their new home when we were visiting for dinner. Because they had just moved, their home is still settling, and it took some looking to find it, but they were determined I shouldn’t leave empty handed! He found the book and gave it to my friend and she held it to her heart as she told me a bit of what it was about.   

I am co-authoring a novel with an Australian poet and my husband and I recently spent time in Townsville so that we could meet and work together in person. This novel mentions Townsville and goes into a lot of detail about Queensland, and some about the Northern Territory. The book starts with the remarkable survival of the main character of a death march she and many other prisoners took through Malaysia during World War II. Though a heavy topic, Shute handles this part of the story with a matter-of-fact tone devoid of emotional manipulation and it is based on a true story, though the actual march took place in Sumatra, not Malaysia. The way Mr. Shute handled the story, in this simple, straightforward manner, made this harrowing part of the tale interesting and not too horrific.

The rewards for reading this part of the story are great. The novel contains my favorite story line, the triumph of hard working people of strong character overcoming circumstances to create something of meaning and lasting value.

This book was copyrighted and first published in 1950 by William Heinemann, Ltd. I read the edition published in 2000 by House of Stratus, Ltd. The copyright is held by the Trustees of the Estate of Nevil Shute Norway. I mention this because the copyright page is a good reminder to authors to make sure you take special care to provide for your estate. There’s a lot to consider and prepare for if you want your chosen heirs to continue to benefit from your work. I attended a lecture on this topic recently at a Romance Writers of America (RWA) meeting and was regaled with tales of literary estates ranging from the good, the bad and the ugly. This recent re-release of this classic work looks like Shute Norway’s estate planning fell in the “good” category.

You need to designate who will be responsible for handling future publishing of your work as well as who will receive the royalties. They can be different people. Your work will live on long after you are gone and can be a source of pride and happiness, or pain and disappointment.

No, I have not set up estate planning for my published work yet, which at this time consists of my romantic short story! But I do plan to handle this if and when more work is published. But regardless of the size and significance of your work, you might want to think about how you want future royalties paid out, who will inherit the copyright and future royalties, who will be responsible for future releases and subsidiary products, and who will handle your online presence, like your websites and Facebook page or if you want those shut down.

A Town Like Alice is such a good example of how your book will continue on and influence more people than you can ever know. This book was a marvelous experience for me, I was moved, I learned a great deal, and it opened up my mind to new possibilities. And the author died 53 years ago!

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8 thoughts on “Book review, A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute

    1. Nia Simone Post author

      Hi Suz,

      I loved it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I want to re-read certain parts of it. It’s great you read it too. I’m going to try some of his other books, too.

      Nia

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      Reply
  1. Chandra

    I am so happy you liked the book, Nia! It’s one of my all time favorite novels. I bought the copy you read in Alice Springs, so I’m glad to see its magic has touched you, too!

    Like

    Reply

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