Very rarely do you get a serene feeling on completing a book. Suddenly life is good, the weather is pleasant and the girls on the road look beautiful.. you get the picture? A town like Alice by Nevil Shute is one of those rare books.
No, it is not just a feel good book. There is a lot of pain, death and suffering in the story, but the way Jean Paget, the heroine deals with it and turns around her life gives the feeling of a life well lived and for the reader a book well read. It is a book about human strength overcoming the adversities of life.
It is about Jean Paget, who inherits a fortune from an unknown uncle. She had spent the World War II years marching across all of Malaysia, as the Japanese didn't know/care about the white women prisoners. The group of 32 women and children were whittled down to 17 before they settled down in a Malay village to spend the rest of the war years. On inheriting her wealth, she goes to the Malay village to dig a well for them. Once there she learns that the Australian Joe Harman, who had helped them during their march and was crucified by the Japanese is not yet dead. She goes to Australia to meet him. And at the same time Harman goes to England in search of her.
They both meet in Australia, where Harman is the station manager in the outback town of Willstown. How Jean Paget goes about reviving the almost dead town is the remaining part of the story.
The book is trademark Nevil Shute, lucid writing, well fleshed out characters and a straight forward narrative. Do not miss this book, and thanks to those people who recommended this to me.