A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute


A tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.


Town Alice – A tale of love and war.

Town Alice – follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian.

Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean back in England, the nightmare behind her. However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life. Jean’s travels leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war-time ordeals.

Nevil Shute based this 1950 novel on a WWII story he had heard about Dutch women and children. These were Japanese prisoners of war, who marched around Sumatra from place to place. The Japanese had no prison camp to put them in, many of them dying along the way.

He used this as the basis for this story of Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman. Jean becomes the leader of a group of women and children. They walking from town to town in Japanese-occupied Malaya (now Malaysia), in terrible circumstances.

Along the way they meet a kind Australian POW, Joe Harman, a young man who helps them with food and other necessities and quickly becomes a friend to Jean. But Jean and Joe run into trouble when Joe steals some black Leghorn chickens for the underfed group. What happens then, and after, makes for a fascinating story.


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