Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Town Like Alice


My home is not quite as dust-free and fabulous as it might be. I have wasted (???) far too much time lately chasing an old memory. But it has been fun.

Deborah from The Beautiful Matters  http://thebeautifulmatters.blogspot.com.au/ wrote that her book club was reading A Town Like Alice. I had read this while a high school student, along with a couple of other Nevil Shute novels. Instantly, I was hooked. Jumped on the internet to find out more about Nevil Shute. It's amazing what you either have forgotten or never knew. Researching the author was fun.

I live just a day and a half's drive from Alice Springs and have been there many times. My daughter lived there for a while. But in the book Joe, the hero, goes to live near Willstown and there is a need for that town to become more like the Alice. Willstown is modelled on Burketown and Normanton which is a region where my mother lived when she was young. You have not died and gone to heaven when you visit those places. Isolated. Conservative. Flies and heat and dust.

I downloaded a copy of A Town Like Alice from the Gutenburg Project, as the novel is not available locally, even through my library services. http://www.gutenberg.ca/ebooks/shuten-townlikealice/shuten-townlikealice-00-h.html  It is also available from  http://alfalib.com/book/53225.html  and  http://www.download1.ch/ebooks/history/a-town-like-alice-by-nevil-shute-ebook/ This is not an arduous book to read. Relaxing. Simple. Engaging.

I found two versions if the film on Youtube and watched them.
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=a+town+like+alice+full+movie Yes, I accidentally found one version dubbed in French!! Watch out!
The original film was made for cinema in 1956 and covers just the first half of the novel. Peter Finch and Virginia McKenna play the leading roles. It is well made and I enjoyed seeing places I had visited as a tourist.
The second version is a television miniseries (1988) and is in three parts. This is close to the novel, with Bryan Brown and Helen Morse taking the characters of Joe and Jean. Lovely. The only negative with this version is the overload of Aussie expressions. Television, movies, and the internet have changed the way we speak now.

When I was at school reading this book there was still a very negative reaction to anything associated with World War II. Many families, including mine, had someone who had been a prisoner in Changi or similar places. These matters were not discussed, as the professional advice given at the time was that the ghastly memories would fade if left alone. So this book and film were not popular in my town. But attitudes are different now.

Have a go. The book is free for your Kindle or computer. Maybe it is in your library. The films are free. Housework is a mere drop in the bucket. If you do it, nobody notices anyway; so skip it for a while. Enjoy yourself.

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