I love to read. It is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you have read this blog before then you will know that I am a member of the Lit and Phil in Newcastle, the biggest private library in the UK, outside of London, of course. The writing process fascinates me and I like to try and understand the evolution of a writer’s craft. This sometimes means reading their works in order.
I am also interested in how I come to read a particular author. It often starts with the title of the book. Some titles appeal to me more than others and this was the case with ‘The Golden Notebook’ by Doris Lessing. I have now, thanks to the library, read most of her canon. Through her work I have seen her returning to various motifs.
Sometimes however it is on someone’s recommendation that I get hooked. Such was the case with Nevil Shute who came as a recommendation from Peter Oborne writing in the Byline Times. He suggested to his readers that we should read ‘A Town Like Alice’.
According to Wikipedia, the book is ‘a romance novel published in 1950 when Shute had newly settled in Australia. Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman, becomes romantically interested in a fellow prisoner of World War II in Malaya, and after liberation emigrates to Australia to be with him, where she attempts, by investing her substantial financial inheritance, to generate economic prosperity in a small outback community—to turn it into “a town like Alice” i.e. Alice Springs.
At first glance, this is a novel I would never have picked up yet the writing was excellent, with strong characters and a story intricate enough to hold my attention. I really enjoyed it and it gave me a great insight into the thinking of the time it was written. From there I have read ‘Beyond the Black Stump’ and ‘Lonely Road.’ Both these stories have romance running through them, though not necessarily as a primary plot. I’m going to carry on with Shute’s works, as long as I can find them.
Anyway, the moral of this tale I guess is twofold: it is good to read those books you wouldn’t normally pick up; people’s recommendations are worth following.
There is a lot of great stuff out there.