Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Suggestion: A Town Like Alice

My friend, Sue, recommend A Town Like Alice since she knew I had just been to Australia.  She had just read the book and thought it was a great read.  I agree and want to share it with you.  

The author also wrote, On the Beach which was made into a movie.  

Jean Paget is a young English girl working in Malaya on a rubber plantations when the Japanese invade and capture the people on the plantation.  The men are sent to prison camps and the women are forced to march for months from place to place.  Along the way, many of the weak succumb to disease and die.  Jean, who speaks the language of the Malayan people, becomes the translator for the group as well as their level headed leader.  After months of marching, the group encounters some Australian men being held prisoners by the Japanese.  Several of the Australian men, attempt to aid the women.  Jean becomes friendly with one man in particular.  

When the war is ended, Jean returns to England and tries to reintegrate into life in England.  She learns that she has inherited quite a sum of money from an all but forgotten uncle.  She decides to return to Malaya to build a well in a town where the people were good to her and the women with whom she was made to march.  In that town, the women had to walk a mile to get fresh water.  Jean knew that a well would make their life much easier.  It was during the building of the well that Jean learned that her Australian male friend had survived the war and returned to Australia.  Jean decides to use her inheritance and travel to Australia to see her friend.  At that same time, he was looking for Jean in England.  

Yes, they do reunite in Australia.  While Jean is waiting for him to return from England, she visits the Town of Alice(Springs)  This is a bustling town in the middle of the continent and essentially the dessert.  Jean goes on to meet her friend, Joe at his cattle station.  This location was desolate and no place for a woman however, Jean and Joe rekindle their friendship which leads to love and marriage.  Jean is a very strong woman and decides she can make the nearby town into...a town like Alice.  Jean uses her entrepreneurial talents and her inheritance to accomplish her goals.  This is a truly amazing part of the novel.  

The book is narrated by Noel Strachan, the solicitor who is one of the trustees of Jean's inheritance.  He is kept apprised of Jean's plans and releases money and advises her on her endeavors. 

This is a book full of adventure, history, romance and a very strong female character.  The book has been a popular book club selection and was adapted into a movie in 1956 and a television miniseries in 1981.   

If you enjoy historical novels, or anything about Australia or a strong, heroic female character, I highly suggest reading A Town Like Alice.

1 comment:

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