Book Review

2003-9/September 1, 2003


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Final Greetings from The Land of Enchantment.

The above is not as ominous as it may sound. This issue of the NSN Newsletter will be the last that I will write/edit. Beginning with the October issue, Richard Michalak, new NSN Foundation Board Member, Historian, and all around nice person (Otherwise known as The Mad Australian) will become the Newsletter Editor. Hence, future newsletter salutations will be from The Land Down Under. Because the newsletter and general correspondence are so closely linked, Richard is also taking over the daily mail. After today, any letters you send to the Newsletter or to the Foundation will be forwarded to Richard instead of to yours truly. Anyone wishing to write to me directly may continue to do so at or

In another shift of responsibilities, Steph Gallagher, our other newly appointed Member of the Board, also known by her official title as HREM (Her Royal Event Manageress), will be assuming duties for oversight of the NSN Foundation Web Site. Webmeister Jack Calaway will continue to be the brains and the hands behind all technical aspects of the site, but Steph will be the one who reviews and approves additions, changes, etc. Steph and Jack already have some neat new features on the burner. More to come on that in the near future.

I will retain responsibilities as Secretary and Treasurer for the Foundation, at least as long as the other Members of the Board are happy with the present arrangements. Even in those areas though, I will be looking for someone to back me up - not to take over any part of the duties now or in the foreseeable future - but to be there as an informed backup if for any reason I would no longer able to perform my duties.

No organization can survive and prosper as long as too much depends on one person. Responsibilities must be shared, and backups must be provided for key personnel. Otherwise, it can all come tumbling down if that one person becomes indisposed. The Foundation has been incorporated for well over three years now, and has a history of activities for two years prior to incorporation. The time for providing some depth and division of responsibilities is way past due. Hence, the new arrangements.


As most of you know, this all started with preparations for the Centennial Celebration some time around the middle of 1998. In the intervening years, we have celebrated the Centennial of our favorite author; opened a US lending library with a branch in Australia and another branch soon to be in the UK; incorporated the Foundation; hosted OZ2001; taken over and revitalized the NSN Web Site and Newsletter; sponsored various gifts and programs for the Nevil Shute Memorial Library in Alice Springs; set up a NSN Excellence in Aviation Scholarship Program; published a Nevil Shute novella (The Seafarers) and hosted UK2003. During those five years, the Foundation has more than lived up to our governing principal: To be of, by and for Shutists everywhere.

It is not possible to give all the credit where credit is due, but it should be acknowledged that not one of the above accomplishments was done alone or in a vacuum. Throughout the past five years, we have had untold assistance from our membership at every step and turn. From assistance in planning and managing our international gatherings, to presenting seminars at those gatherings, to technical management of the Web Site, to locating and obtaining long lost films, to historical research, to taking over the lending library, to transcribing manuscripts, and on and on, there is nothing we have done that has not been a group effort. As my last act as Newsletter Editor, I would like to thank the many, many Shutists who have made all this possible.

On to the news of the day:


The last UK2003 photo albums and audio tape sets have been mailed. Steph has counted the pennies (or pence) and found that she made a modest and unintentional profit on the gathering. Remaining funds will be set aside for building the UK Branch of the Lending Library and for providing seed money for postage and miscellaneous expenses. One set of the audio tapes has been sent to the US Lending Library and one set has been retained by Steph for the UK Branch. Both will be available for borrowing without charge, as are all library holdings.


As indicated in the opening paragraphs, new Board Members Steph Gallagher and Richard Michalak are wasting no time in taking over substantial Foundation duties. Board President Heather Mayfield is working on the 2003 Scholarship Program, and I am back at it trying to get our application for US tax exempt (501 [C] [3]) status put together and submitted. Toward that end, Board Member Jim MacDougald has generously offered to provide assistance with the final package. At this time, we have the best balanced division of responsibilities we have ever enjoyed. Things are indeed looking up for the long term health and growth of the Foundation.


Jon Streatfeild, a UK Shutist with interest in possibly doing documentaries on aspects of Nevil's writing, has been active in researching information on Mrs. Carry Geysel-Vonck, the inspiration for Jean Paget in A Town Like Alice. In his quest, which he has closely coordinated with the Foundation, he has been assisted by Johan Bakker who has kindly translated pertinent documents and articles from Dutch, and by Historian Richard Michalak. Sad to say, the trail came to an end this month when Jon learned of Mrs. Geysel-Vonck's death in Switzerland in 1996. Richard will be adding pictures and information resulting from Jon's research to the Web Site Photo Album and Time Line in the near future.


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, e-address and location of the writer, unless the writer specifically asks that this information not be published. We like to list letter writers' locations, just to give our readers some idea of the areas of the world covered by the Web Site and Newsletter. When writing, please include name and country/state/region.

One from in Orangevale, California:


  I have listened to the tapes of the last two sessions (at UK2003) which we missed.   I have several comments on what took place.

  First, I have been thinking for a long time about the need for a better biography of Nevil and reached the same conclusion you did; there really is not enough data to do a very good job. It occurs to me a more realistic approach might be a collection of essays written be a number of people.   Certainly what has taken place at the three conferences could form a basis for some of them.

  In terms of romance and passion in his writings, you might want to look at his unpublished short stories, particularly Before the Mail. You might also look at The Uttermost Parts of the Sea which gives a slightly different view of a younger Nevil Shute. At the other end of his career, I am struck by the lack of emotion shown by the William Spear, the protagonist, in Incident at Eucla.  As the book opens, his wife has just died, apparently after a long illness.   He shows very little emotion; he systematically divides up her jewelry and gives it away, gives away her car, etc. There is little grieving but this may not be too unusual.  It is very much what I saw in my father when my mother died after a very long and difficult illness.  Incidentally, I am thinking of a session for 2005 about the short stories and Incident at Eucla called The Alpha and Omega of Nevil Shute.  

You might also want to look at On the Beach. The relationship between Dwight and Moira is certainly commendable but I am not sure it is very realistic. This book also gives some insight about fathers and daughters as depicted by Peter Holmes. Likewise The Rainbow and the Rose says something about father daughter relationships.  Lastly, Beyond the Black Stump has a variety of interpersonal relationships. I am in the process of reading In her own Words which is a series of essays by women from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. One of these essays by Sally Morgan, an excerpt from My Place, sounds much like what went on at the station in Beyond the Black Stump. She traces her Aboriginal ancestry and finds in many cases there is question about who was the father of children.  

  In terms of defining moments, I think it was the crash of the R101; I think the destruction of the R100 was anti-climatic.  I think he knew it was all over when the R101 crashed but I do not see much sense in arguing the point.

  Finally, I would vote for a 2005 conference in Washington or Oregon.   It might be a change of pace to devote more conference time to the books which relate to the area; i. e. Beyond the Black Stump and Trustee from the Toolroom.

  These are my thoughts on what I heard on the tapes.

  On another subject for the newsletter, if you feel it is appropriate, I have a Cassell first edition of So Disdained with a dust jacket. I am willing to make full size color photo copies for trade with individuals who can provide similar copies of dust jackets of any of the other three Cassell first editions. The low cost approach is to go to Office Max or someone similar and have a copy made. The more expensive approach is to go to a photo lab and have a copy made and then cleaned up to remove tears, etc. This can be negotiated at the time of the trade if indeed anyone is interested.

  Best regards,


And another from Andy:

  I am not sure if this is of interest to you and other readers but for what it is worth, here it is. After the discussion in Portsmouth about the heat exchangers in Trustee from the Toolroom, I went back and looked at the book. I now see how Nevil came up with them needing to be about three times as big.  The purpose is to cool the hydraulic oil from 110 F to 85F. First you need to assume they are counter flow devices with oil flowing one way and water the other; this would be a likely choice. If the river water is 55 F, the temperature difference between the incoming water and the leaving oil is 30 F.  If the oil is cooled by 25 degrees (110 to 85) and the water is heated 25 degrees (55 to 80), you maintain a 30 degree temperature difference the entire length of the heat exchanger.  In a similar manner if the incoming water is 75 F, you only have a 10 degree temperature difference; i. e. water from 75 F to 100 F and oil from 110 F to 85 F.   In this case, reduction of the temperature difference by a factor of 3 would result in the need for about a 3:1 size increase.

  Now the bottom line: I am still not sure Keith Stewart would have known enough engineering to figure this out.   In any case it fits the rest of the story well and probably is not worth arguing about.



From in the UK:
Hello there,

I am contacting you from London in the hope that you might be able to help me. I am attempting to find a copy of an Italian translation of A Town like Alice for my mother, as she is learning the language and is a fan of Nevil Shute. However, it seems that only two Shute novels have been translated into Italian. Those are Attacco fatale (Fatal Attack) and Viaggio indimenticabile (Unforgettable Journey). As far as I can see the names have been changed in translation, though I would imagine that Unforgettable Journey is an apt alternative title for Alice. So, my question is this: do you know if this is indeed, A Town Like Alice, or another work, and how can I go about finding out? I have tried AP Watt, the literary agents for the Nevil Shute estate, but have had no luck, and I do not know where else to look on the Internet.

Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated, as I am all out of ideas!

Yours Gratefully,

Ian Niehorster.

PS It's a great site, very nicely done.

Note: I forwarded this letter to Chris Phillips, one of our readers in Italy, and received the following response. Seek and ye shall find!

From in Rome:
Hi Ian,

ATLA was published in Italian twice, under the literally translated title Una citta come Alice, in 1950/1 and 1973, but it is no longer in print. However, I have found a used edition at 20 Euros. The Web site is, (search for Shute). It is marked with an asterisk in the site's list, which the site says means that the book is in as new condition. The E-mail to write to to order the book is:, and the Web site is partially in English, so you should be able to write to them in English. They accept payment by credit card.

I have even found a recorded book version of it (, but at first glance, the site does not tell me how to order it. If you are interested, let me know, and I will dig further.

The NS books I can find via the Internet that have been published in Italian are (the publisher and publishing date, if known, follow the English name of the book):

Una citta come AliceA town like AliceFrassinelli 1950/1, Mondadori 1973
Attaco fataleLandfallTea 1996
Viaggio indimenticabileNo HighwayTea 1996
L' ultima spiaggiaOn the BeachSugar 1959, Mondadori, 1966
Paese lontanoThe Far Country
Avventura alle terre verdiSee note 1.Rizzoli, 1953
Le due frontiereSee note 2.Mondadori, 1967
...e via sul mareSee note 3.

Note 1: I do not have a positive ID for this. The Italian means Adventure in the green lands. However, do not jump to the obvious, because Greenland in Italian is Groenlandia, not terre verdi, so An Old Captivity is not a certainty, though it must be a possibility. Terre verdi is also used specifically to refer to an artist's colour, an Italian wine and an area of northern Latium near the Tuscany border, none of which appears to have anything to do with any of NS's books.

Note 2: I do not have a positive ID for this. The Italian means The two frontiers (or just possibly The two front lines). This is sufficiently vague that it might be stretched to fit several of the books.

Note 3: I do not have a positive ID for this. The Italian means let's go to sea, but doesn't seem to match any of NS's books except maybe Pilotage. But who would have translated Pilotage? Maybe Dan, who is copied on this, could launch an appeal in the Newsletter, to see if anyone else has more info.

By the way, I found copies of Attaco fatale, Viaggio indimenticabile and L'ultima spiaggia, available for sale in the Internet, but nothing for the others. I hope this is useful. If you need a hand with anything related to this, let me know, although you will have to respond quickly, as I shall be offline from Friday for at least a week.


PS: Do not ask me why two Italian publishers should be called Tea and Sugar!

From in Connecticut:

In doing some research, found this site which might be of interest...



Note: The site that Arne references has the same content (text and pictures) as the Exbury Gardens folders we were presented at UK2003. Those who were not able to attend the gathering might enjoy taking a look at what they missed.

From in Gardena, California:


Did you ever wonder what happened to the Viceroy parked in the rear of the Airspeed Ltd hangar when Nevil Shute was the managing director?

Your members may be interested to know of an aviation novel that mentions Nevil Norway, Airspeed Ltd., and the Viceroy. It is a great read and is based on a true story.

The book, The Mannerheim Line by Jacques Evans, is available on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble web sites.

Thought this might be of interest to fellow Nevil Shute fans.



From in Carlsbad, California:
Hi Dan:

Recently, we were discussing Shute at my local library.   I volunteer to work in its resale bookstore.   What prompted the discussion was that there was a twenty volume set of Nevil Shute novels available for resale from a donor. The perfect condition set was priced at $20.00. Can you believe it?

A question arose regarding whether or not Nevil ever wrote anything under his family name (Norway) or under any other name. Do you have any information in that regard?

Subsequent to sending my first e-mail to your organization I shared it with the new woman in my life. She stated that, unbeknownst to me, her voracious reading habit covering over 40 years of adult consumption, included everything written by Nevil Shute.   Along with selected others, she places Shute in the top of her list of favorite authors.

For some reason I made the assumption that you were residing in Australia.   I see in your salutation that you are in New Mexico. Coincidentally, we are planning a mid September trip thru Utah, New Mexico and Arizona and returning to our home in San Diego County.   Does your foundation have a dedicated physical site in NM?

Thank you,


Note: There is no Foundation museum or office in New Mexico other than the Telfair abode, which contains the only oil portrait ever painted of Nevil Shute (while he was living), several complete collections of his work, all the audio books made from his novels, video copies of all the films made from his books, etc. I invited Joel and friend to stop by during their travels to share dinner and perhaps a Nevil Shute movie. The same invitation goes out to all Shutists traveling through The Land of Enchantment. A number have already accepted this offer - all very pleasant visits.

That's it for this month folks. It has been fun. And now, it is Richard's turn!

Regards from The Land Of Enchantment,


Nevil Shute Norway