Sunday, January 11, 2015

Part 2: Two Twentieth Century Adventure/Romances

Nevil Shute Norway was an Englishman born about the time "The Virginian" can out; by the time he died in 1960, he had many successful novels to his credit including "On the Beach" and "A Town like Alice". His pen name was Nevil Shute. He wrote in addition to his actual profession as an aeronautical engineer and pilot. He wrote about the world and the British Empire during the period after WW1, through WW2 and the Cold War. "Beyond the Black Stump" is a story that contrasts American and Australian cultures through the back grounds and experiences of the main characters, Stanton, (an American mining engineer sent to the outback of Australia)handsome, above board, brilliant with a seemingly perfect Eagle Scout image and a dark, guilty secret; Molly is the 19 year old daughter of an Irish rebel from the 1916 uprising who fled to Australia and made good on a huge ranch. Molly has irregularities in her back ground too, but not hidden. The two are attracted and Stanton is a bit scandalized by Molly's strange family ways; Molly is so good, beautiful and intelligent that Stanton comes to terms with the family situation; he completely overlooks the idea of telling Molly about the skeleton in his own closet! As in "A Town Like Alice", the book is enjoyably readable, it's well crafted and allows us a look into the life styles of another time and place. As with "The Virginian", it shows interesting contrasts in the different cultures of the main characters. Nevil Shute takes us on a first-class flight trip from Sydney to San Francisco in the days prior to jet engines on airplanes; worth reading just for that if one is too young to remember.

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