Book Review

2001-2 AUGUST 1, 2001

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A month has come and gone more rapidly than I would have thought possible, and it is time for the second monthly newsletter of this series. Many thanks to those who have written with positive comments about the newsletter and the new web site. Jack Calaway has done a masterful job of bringing the web site on line, despite some aggravation from ICOM. I particularly like the format and ease of navigation. We are currently working our way through each section, updating and polishing. All comments and suggestions are welcome.


I have noticed a peculiarity of the Internet, and various search engines/web crawlers, etc. The site appears somewhat differently, depending on which search engine you use. Computer literates out there probably understand this. I don't have a clue. In any event, I have found that when I use Internet Explorer, I get a more complete and up to date view of the site than when I use AOL.

For those who have not already done so, please check out the updated 'Resource' page. If you are looking for that hard to find edition, you are very likely to find it through one or more of the sources listed. The 'Filmography' page has also been updated, as have the 'Library' and 'Gatherings' pages. If you are looking for a book, audio tape, or video tape to borrow, rent, or buy, or perhaps a local meeting to attend, you are sure to find it somewhere on the web site. Also, for the Aussies among us, please check out the new e address for the lending library branch in OZ.

We have changed the masthead photo of Nevil to one that has been referred to as his 'mature author' publicity photo. It is the one featured in 'Slide Rule', so I assume he liked it. In that regard, Jack had a very good idea. If members will send in their favorite photographs of Nevil, we will have a contest to see which will be featured on the masthead. We may decide on a permanent selection, or we may rotate from month to month.

Another good idea from the Webmaster, stimulated by the most recent discussion on the NSL regarding Sir Philip Stenning: We are adding a 'Characters' section to the site, with a separate page for each character. Both major and minor characters will be eligible for inclusion. The idea will be to provide a bio/analysis of each character, including which book(s) he or she appears in, who the character may be based on, and his or her salient characteristics. We will open the new section with one character, and add to it as new input is received, much the way we have done with the Book Review and other sections. It is time to begin selecting your favorite NSN character(s) and honing your research/analytical/writing skills!


In regard to the newsletter, this has been a fruitful month. We have been able to combine John Henry's mailing list with the Foundation mailing list, and also add quite a few new subscribers. As a result of trial mailings, we have had six former subscribers ask to be removed from the list, and eighty or so addresses with 'fatal errors' that had to be removed, presumably because either the subscriber dropped out or the ISP closed down. That leaves us with 619 subscribers as of the date of this newsletter, with more being added on a regular basis. We are also beginning to receive more reader input, several examples of which are included below.


Colorado Chapter Meeting:

On July 6, the Colorado Chapter of the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation met at the home of Dr. Robert and Mrs. Christine Wester. For a full report of the meeting, and plans for the next meeting, check out the 'Gatherings' page on the web site.

I took advantage of the opportunity to fly up to Denver, and play aerial bookmobile again, delivering books and video tapes to the Westers and to Babette Hill. The Cornells graciously put me up for the night, and fed me the following morning.

Those of you who attended OZ2001 will remember The Westers' charming daughter Annie, who was the youngest participant at the convention. While at the convention, I had promised her an opportunity to fly Tango Dancer, our Cessna 182, and made good on the promise while on this trip. We flew out of Centennial Airport the morning following the meeting, with Annie at the controls most of the time, and proud father Robert in the back seat. Both thanked me profusely following the flight. Robert may well reconsider when he starts paying $120 an hour for her flight lessons in the not too distant future.

New Nevil Shute Editions

Fred Weiss of Paper Tiger has done it again! The only supplier of new hard bound Nevil Shute editions has added yet another to his list.

This from Fred:

'The Paper Tiger is pleased to announce the new addition of MARAZAN to its series of Nevil Shute hardcover titles. That now makes a total of 6 titles in the series. All 6 titles can be purchased at a Special Sale Price: If you want to purchase two or more titles, but not the whole set, e-mail Fred Weiss to receive a discount: Fred also has a good stock at the moment of other Nevil Shute titles in inexpensive used paperback or hardcovers.'

The other big news on the new edition front comes from The House of Stratus. They recently completed the publication of a very nice matched paperback set of all Nevil Shute's books (with the usual exception of Vinland the Good). The quality of the bindings and paper are very good, and the cover art is acceptable, though not outstanding. For the most part, they used generic covers that suggest the title of the book, without being specific. In one case (The Far Country), the cover art looks suspiciously like a scene from one of the US National Parks.

Most titles are $9.20 USD each, with two listing for a bit more. The Foundation Library recently ordered the entire set of 23 for $242.05 USD including shipping and handling. Stratus books also show up on Amazon and other sources, but they are generally a few dollars more each when bought from anyone other than directly from Stratus.


The following letters appear with the permission of the writers and with minor editing:



From the Needles in the west to Chichester Harbour in the east the Solent is one of the finest sailing areas in Britain providing relatively sheltered waters between the Isle of Wight and the Hampshire coast with many good harbours and anchorages. Here the ferries run to France, liners operate from Southampton and in the summer months it is full of pleasure craft from dinghies to racing yachts.

Nevil Shute learned to sail in these waters and kept his own boat there when he lived on Hayling Island. He incorporates sailing in a number of his novels, always writing, as so often, from his own experience. From 'Slide Rule' we know that he crewed for a Mr Heppard on a yacht from the Hamble river, a fairly narrow river that joins Southampton Water about 4 miles below Southampton. In those days engines were much less reliable than today so navigating it by sail alone was a tricky business with not infrequent collisions with other craft.

Leaving the Hamble river, Southampton Water runs down to join the Solent with Calshot on the right in the lee of which the Corbetts moored and had their boat capsized by an enemy bomb exploding in the water nearby. From Calshot the passenger seaplanes flew and even in the 60s the fuselages of large seaplanes were still moored here.

Turn right into the Solent and there is the mouth of the Beaulieu river, probably the prettiest river in southern England. It winds in amid the New Forest with trees down the waters edge. Here Janet Prentice was stationed as a Wren in the preparations for 'Overlord' and D-Day. From these tranquil waters great numbers of landing and assault craft were prepared and dispatched across the Channel, and it takes a leap of imagination now to conjure up a vision of the great armada of craft that was assembled in May and June of 1944.

From Beaulieu the Solent runs on down to Lymington and Keyhaven on the right, no doubt a bracing afternoon trip for Alan & Bill Duncan with Janet Prentice, their attention drawn to the amassed fleet. Opposite Lymington lies the small port of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, much the same these days as Shute would have known it, although you might not be greeted by name as the Corbetts were by the Harbourmaster, such is the increase in pleasure boat numbers.

East from Southampton Water is Portsmouth and the large harbours of Langstone (alongside which Airspeed grew up in the 1930's) and Chichester Harbour where David Anderson went dinghy sailing with Rosemary .

Much has changed, of course, over the years. Stainless steel and fiberglass have replaced wooden construction in boats. Gear is lighter and easier to handle. Gas stoves have replaced the Primus; life is much easier now for the weekend yachtsman. But to take a trip in these waters and experience the sense of freedom it brings is to appreciate how such activities could be woven into novels by a master such a Nevil Shute.


Delighted to have found your site

A little item which may not be generally known about the filming of No Highway.

In the early days of my career in the aviation industry, I knew a number of engineers who had been in the industry since demobilisation from the RAF just after the war. Some of these had been recruited to construct the Reindeer aircraft for the film. Of course, no aircraft manufacturer would permit their aircraft to be used for obvious reasons so the engineers created the mythical aircraft with the double horizontal stabiliser from an old Halifax bomber.

In the film, James Stewart (Mr Honey) stops the aircraft flying again by retracting the undercarriage on the ground. The lever that James Stewart pulled in the film was a dummy, but the real retraction was done by an engineer - called James Stewart!

I think that I possess most of the books written by the great man, but would welcome the opportunity to read some of his unpublished manuscripts.

Brian Kendal


Fellow Shutists,

I hope this is an appropriate forum to ask a question which has been mildly bothering me for years.

Does anyone know what prompted NS to make a connection with Italy in so many of his earlier books, and some of his later ones? As I'm sure you will remember, several books have scenes set in Italy (e.g. So Disdained) , while others mention Italy in passing (e.g. Ross tells his story on a train to Italy in An Old Captivity) or have Italian characters (e.g. Mario, the farmhand in Far Country). I have read nothing in Slide Rule or the biography on your web site to indicate why Italy was chosen so often, and not other European countries (e.g. Spain. Austria or Switzerland). I wondered if you, or maybe his daughters, knew why?

I live in Rome, hence my particular interest in Italy.



That's it for this month. Keep those cards and letters coming!

Regards from TLOE,


Nevil Shute Norway