A Town Like Alice

This week Miss Camsell recommendsas a good summer read.

A classic tale of hardship, torture and resilience, the plot revolves around Jean Paget, a 20 year old Brit working in Malaya during the Japanese invasion.

She is captured and joins a group of other European women and children and put under pressure to trek miles through the jungle with the other captives, leading to the death of many. Her courageous spirit and skills force her in to the role of leader for the prisoners. Whilst on the march, the group encounter Australian prisoners. They are helped and given food by a man named Joe Harman who is then punished by the Japanese as a result of his theft.

Paget’s story is narrated poignantly through her solicitor, Noel Strachan: his ordinary life serves as a stark contrast to Jean’s life. He is completely beguiled by Jean, and the framing narrative gives a bittersweet tang to the novel. I devoured this book on a plane journey and think it would be an excellent beach read for those of you going away this summer.