Book Review

2002-12/December 1, 2002


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Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc.


After much insomnia induced pillow wrestling a few nights ago, I finally gave in and got out of bed around 3:00 AM. There not being a lot to do around Casa Telfair at that hour of the morning, I went to the computer, logged on, and accessed the web site. The next two hours were likely the most enjoyable and productive I have spent in a good while. Due to a rather hectic schedule, I usually only go to the web site to review some particular point or accomplish a particular objective. Spending two hours, going from top to bottom on the site with no particular objective, reminded me of how much I had been missing. Those of you who have not perused the web site at leisure recently should make the time to do so. I expect that you would be delighted with the experience.

One of the really great things about the web site is the extent to which it is built on member contributions. The recently completed Aviation and Photo Album sections are two prominent examples. Others include book reviews, character analyses, and related articles. All help to paint a picture of our favorite author, and also to characterize our membership.

While on that subject, it has been a while since we received any new submissions for the Characters and Book Review Sections (Other than Maggie Gluntz' excellent report on "Pied Piper " last month). We are especially in need of more Character analyses, but we also welcome additional book reviews. Please visit these sections soon and consider making your own contributions.


As usual during this time of year, I spend a little time reviewing the many things for which I am thankful. This year, my thoughts turned to the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation, and the great pleasure it gives me. That led to a realization of how much is owed to those who have made the Foundation what it is today. Because many of our contributors prefer to remain anonymous, the following list does not name specific individuals. However, many of you may recognize yourselves as well as several others on this list.

I am very thankful:

For Nevil Shute's daughters for serving on the Foundation Board of Directors, attending and speaking at our gatherings, and taking time from their busy lives to help us with our many projects.

For the other members of the Board of Directors, all of whom donate their time and efforts.

For our many financial supporters.

For those who have donated books to the Foundation Library.

For those who assisted the Foundation in obtaining copies of all films based on Nevil Shute books.

For those who have authored/created major sections for the web site.

For the many who have provided book reviews, character analyses, and related articles.

For our chief typist, scribe, administrator, and all around support person.

For all the others who helped make The Seafarers a reality.

For those who served as speakers and panel moderators at the Centennial and OZ2001.

For the many volunteers, both Shutists and non-Shutists, who worked so hard to make the Centennial and OZ2001 successful.

For the organization that provides free web site hosting to the Foundation.

For the individual who is currently providing pro bono legal support to the Foundation.

And for many, many others.

Good On Yer!


A frequent question on the Nevil Shute List (NSL), and in letters to the Foundation staff, has to do with the meaning of certain terms and references in Nevil Shute's books. Because of the differences in English as it is written in different parts of the world, and because the usage changes significantly over time, many unfamiliar terms and expressions may be encountered. This has resulted in several suggestions that we assemble a glossary of such terms, and provide a place for it on the web site.

There are several ways to go about creating such a glossary. Perhaps the least demanding on any one person would be to have one Shutist coordinate the effort, and a number of others volunteer to review particular books and create glossaries of unusual/potentially unfamiliar terms and expressions therein. Then the coordinator could design a format to bring the various individual book glossaries together. The site and the newsletter could be used to seek volunteers to review individual books, and to ask for assistance in defining the really difficult terms. (Did anyone ever figure out the meaning of "Atap"?)

How about it? Anyone out there who would like to volunteer as coordinator? This sounds like a fun project.


We have received several requests to provide a venue for trading Nevil Shute books. For the present, I think we will limit it to a paragraph in the Newsletter. Anyone having books they would like to trade, or in search of particular books, can write to the newsletter, and their information will be listed under this paragraph in the next issue.

As a start, I have an extra Cassel first edition of So Disdained that I would like to trade for a Cassell first edition of either Lonely Road or Ruined City. I also have a lead on an extra Cassel Marazan for the same purpose. Any takers?


Zia Telfair, who presented a talk on Connie Shak Lin at OZ2001, and provided a Character Analysis on the same subject for the web site, has begun another project - this time developing a talk and/or paper on "The Appeal of Nevil Shute". She is asking for input from fellow Shutists to assist with the new project. Please refer to her request in the Letters to the Editor Section.

Along the same lines, if anyone else is working on a Nevil Shute related project, such as a talk for UK2003 or anything of that sort, please feel free to seek assistance from fellow Shutists through the newsletter and web site.


From HREM (Her Royal Event Manageress) Steph Gallagher:

Dear Friends

A lot of time has been spent this month preparing pricing and registration documents for the gathering. These will all be posted on the web site quite soon. I will of course let you know when this has happened. I have also been in contact with the Queens Hotel regarding our accommodation rates for the event. As a result, they have dropped all room prices - the biggest gain being on the cost of a family room, a drop of £45 (approx US$63).

All but one of our speakers have confirmed their availability. I must admit to being quite excited by the depth and variety of our speakers. However, there will be an emphasis on interaction with plenty of opportunities to ask questions during the gathering.

If you are a UK based NSN enthusiast and would like to get more involved in planning aspects, please do let me know. Willing volunteers are always welcome and there are several organisational tasks that need to be sorted for the event.

If you have any questions about the gathering, please feel free to drop me a line at I do reply to all e-mails received. However I travel a lot for my work (the day job), so it might take a few days for me to reply.

Seasons Greetings and Kindest regards,



Donations to the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation, either through the PayPal button on the web site home page, or through are always appreciated. Also, anyone interested in leaving a bequest to the Nevil Shute Norway Foundation is encouraged to contact the Foundation Secretary at


Note: Letters to the Editor are published, complete with the name and e-address of the sender, unless the sender specifically asks that his or her name and/or e-address not be published. Also, we like to list letter writers' full names and locations, just to give our readers some idea of the areas of the world that the web site and newsletter cover. When writing, please include full name and country/state/region.

From in the Land of Enchantment:

Dear Shutists:

I have a request for all of you. I have often pondered just what Nevil Shute's appeal is, why his books seem practically addictive to so many people, and what inspires an almost religious devotion to Uncle Nevil. I would find it fascinating to explore this topic in greater depth with your help.

I consider myself to be a Shutist primarily by association. I don't display the degree of dedication of a true fan. That said, I have read every one of Nevil Shute's books at least twice. I turn to his stories when I want to be swept into another world, and with each successive reading I appreciate his work even more.

Dan and I agree on some aspects of Nevil Shute's appeal, yet in other ways our responses to the books are quite distinct. For example, we both quickly fall in love with Nevil Shute's highly moral, well-intentioned characters. Yes, they can be rather predictable, but that is in itself reassuring. We both also appreciate the craft that goes into the novels. Each one is beautifully engineered. On the other hand, Dan is fascinated by the political philosophy of "In the Wet", while I find this component of the book to be dull. I am captivated instead by Connie Shak Lin's philosophy which corresponds closely to my own. Perhaps these differences in themselves illustrate an aspect of Nevil Shute's allure. He may have achieved universal appeal through the breadth and diversity of his own interests.

These are just a few beginning ideas. I would truly appreciate hearing directly from any of you concerning why you find yourself drawn to read book after book by Nevil Shute again and again. This may become the topic of a paper or a talk/discussion, so please let me know if you prefer to keep your comments anonymous. Thank you in advance for your help!


From in Warrenton, VA:
I have just found your web site. Great job. I have been a Nevil Shute fan for years and have many (17) of his books. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter and get more info about borrowing books/vidoes. I saw in the aviation section, very interesting by the way, reference to titles with Roman numerals after. Does this designate later editions or revised editions?

I met a lady in Rosseau, Canada this summer who had met Mr. Norway while a Wren during WW II. Her recollections were interesting. I retired after 38 years with UAL and now Live in Warrenton VA.

Al Benkelman

From :
Dear Dan:

I was so pleased to discover the work of Nevil Shute through the review of The Pied Piper by twelve year old Maggie Gluntz. It is true that "the children will lead us" into the future. Maggie's enthusiasm for Nevil's books has inspired me to seek them out at the library and to log-on to this website again. I had the privilege of being Maggie's Kindergarten teacher. It is a joy for me to continue to see her zeal for the written word. You may be interested to know that her mother, Peg, is a professional book editor.

Now you have a third Nevil Shute devotee!



From in the UK:

I've just found this site while researching a NSN quote. I've been a fan for almost half a century. My favourite book is Requiem for a Wren, closely followed by In the Wet. What a pity that the politics are regarded as politically incorrect. My wife's favourite (also a long time fan) is A Town Like Alice.


Terry Jones

From in CT:
I'm reading The Seafarers... very slowly. I think my pace is about the same time frame as in the book... Usually I devour novels, but this time, I've decided to read no more than one page at a time.. and I'm enjoying it. Instead of saying I will read it "when I get time," I just pick it up on the odd spare moment at my desk, and read enough to satisfy myself and to form a cohesive mental image, then I put it down.... It is a wonderful little story.. I figure it will take me another month to finish it..<g>..


From in the UK:
Thanks to Mr Backshall for his mention of Pandora Inn in the Foundation Newsletter. For further information, see

Just to clarify, my understanding is that a financially pressed NS sold any Envoys he had or could repossess to arms trade agents representing both sides in the Spanish conflict. The subsequent movement of planes and parts was the business of those agents. Knowledge of 'Lonely Road' (written of course in the early '30s) offered a key lead to people in France who learned of 'vacuum cleaners' being quietly shipped out of the Fal estuary in May/June 1937.

A book I found useful to my research is 'Arms for Spain- the untold story of the Spanish Civil War' by Gerald Howson (John Murray ISBN 0-7195-5556-6)

Howson suggests NS's memory might have been a tad patchy when he came to write 'Slide Rule'.

I think 'Lonely Road' an excellent book.... the work of a humane man.


That's it for this month folks. Please keep those e-cards and e-letters coming.

Regards from The Land Of Enchantment,


Nevil Shute Norway