Read Round the Bend by Nevil Shute Online


Tom Cutter is in love with airplanes and has been from his boyhood. He can remain in England, an employee in another man's aviation business, or he can set out on his own.With little more than personal grit and an antique aircraft, Cutter organizes an independent flying service on the Persian Gulf. He sees opportunities everywhere, also dangers."In Cutter's growth from proTom Cutter is in love with airplanes and has been from his boyhood. He can remain in England, an employee in another man's aviation business, or he can set out on his own.With little more than personal grit and an antique aircraft, Cutter organizes an independent flying service on the Persian Gulf. He sees opportunities everywhere, also dangers."In Cutter's growth from provincial conservative to worldly entrepreneur, Shute brings us a fine portrayal of a man willing to accept pain and danger in his search for personal growth." (B-O-T Editorial Review Board)...

Title : Round the Bend
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781842322895
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 396 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Round the Bend Reviews

  • Tim
    2019-02-18 17:52

    This reviewer cannot be objective when it comes to N. Shute. I love his work. I have all 22 of the books he wrote from 1920 to 1960. He is probably best known for On the Beach, a post nuclear war doomsday story. Popular at the peak of the Cold War. This story, however, is a great read. I find his work very intense. It is one of those kind of books that you'll be 50 pages into before you know it. I LOVE those kind of books. This is about a mystic in a modern world. Down to earth. Simple. Yet deep. Most of Shute's books are about boy meets girl, boy goes off to war, then reunion. Very formulaic. That said, every book is intriguing and totally enthralling. A teacher friend and I started a Dead Author's Society when I first "found" Shute (it was around the time that "Dead Poet's Society" came out). Others love him, too. Google Nevil Shute and you'll find fan clubs from around the world.

  • Jon
    2019-02-02 15:35

    I confess I don't know how Nevil Shute does it. This novel, written about 1951, purports to be the autobiography of an airline entrepreneur after WWII. He starts in England with a single small plane and gradually builds an airfreight empire centered in Bahrain. He has no interests other than his business, and he achieves success by pluck, unremitting hard work, sinking every penny back into the business, and hiring the best people as mechanics, engineers, and pilots, even if they aren't white Europeans. His narrative is plain, spare, un-ironic, and toneless. First this happened, then this. It sails very close to boring. His philosophy seems to be "Forget prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude; the real virtues are competence, practicality, honesty, and once somebody has demonstrated those, open-mindedness towards his possibly strange and foreign way of life." The real subject of the story emerges only very slowly and with increasing fascination--it is that his oldest friend and chief engineer seems to be some kind of religious nut who has gone "round the bend." He preaches a kind of mindful work ethic to his co-workers. "Good work and right thinking are as one." Do your job carefully and with respect. Done that way, it will be God's work. His presence and charisma are apparently irresistible. Slowly he begins to attract followers and his reputation grows. He attracts Muslims in the Mideast, Hindus in India, and Buddhists in the far East. The narrator (his friend and boss) is only slightly aware of all this, but he is happy to let it go on--he has a supremely expert workforce and marvelously well-maintained planes as a result. What's not to like? But gradually political and other tensions grow. Finally his friend is diagnosed with leukemia and dies the calm death of a holy man, worshiped by many thousands. Gradually the book has completely shifted from its apparent subject. The narrator can't quite believe in his friend's holiness, but even he in his skepticism has been moved. Near the end he admits with typical simplicity, "I don't think about things in quite the way I used to." And neither does the reader.

  • Tatiana
    2019-01-26 21:51

    Just finished rereading this one, and it's my favorite Shute novel and one of my favorite books of all time, notwithstanding the sexism of the era and the rather quaint and patronizing view taken of "Asiatics". For the time it was entirely enlightened. Nevil Shute was a great writer and a wonderful person. Aviation in his time did for those few people who pursued it what the internet does in ours for everyone: makes the world into our own small neighborhood. Connie is one of my favorite characters in all of literature. Though we only hear a bit of his philosophy, it's enough to see the outlines of his path, a form of devotion applicable to Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, or whatever religion one follows, and brought to bear upon the whole of one's life. To be a very good aircraft mechanic one must become a very good person. As an engineer, designer, builder, and mom, I do aspire to be a Shaklinist.

  • Chrisl
    2019-02-09 19:45

    Using multiple rereads as criteria for favorite novelists, Nevil Shute is easily my most liked. Set in the years after WWII, written then, it provides useful perspective on the Middle East. Here's a quote about one of the minor characters :"Dwight was an American, a soldier of fortune by profession. Wherever there is trouble in the world the Dwights of all nations foregather. There are not very many of them, thirty or forty perhaps, and they are all supremely competent men because because the others have been killed."Dwight had spent some years in Central and South America, and he had flown for Franco in the Spanish Civil War. He had been flying for the Chinese against the Japanese in 1938 and 1939, and he had come into the United States Army Air Force via Major Chennault's Flying Tigers. He delivered two or three disposals B25s from America to the warring Israelites in Palestine just after the war, but by the middle of 1946 he was back in the East, flying loads of sub-machine-guns from the Philippines to Indonesia for the benefit of brown men fighting the Dutch.""At that time there was considerable sympathy in South-East Asia for the Indonesians in their struggle against the Dutch. In Indo-China the Viet-Minh forces were engaged in a similar rebellion against French rule ..."5/3/17 - Here's a quote I like :"By John AndersonPerhaps my favourite of all Shute's novels, "Round the Bend" contains many of his usual elements - aviation, enterprise, a mild love interest, and an unusual story very well told.Tom Cutter got into aviation the hard way before World War II, working his way up first in an Air Circus that toured England in the summer season, then with Airservice where he became a competent ground engineer, servicing planes all over the Middle East during the War. With the suicide of his wife just before his return to England, he cannot face going back to work at the aerodrome where they met, and he buys an old Fox Moth aircraft to charter out in Bahrein. The enterprise is highly successful and his business develops so that he has to take on other pilots and engineers. To keep his costs down he employs only Asiatics - Sikh pilots and local engineers. The rapidly developing oil industry uses his charter service to link operations between the Persian Gulf, Indonesia and Australia. There, by accident, he meets his old friend Connie Shaklin - a first class aircraft engineer, half European, half Asian, who joins his operation as Chief engineer,Connie's method of teaching aircraft maintenance combines the practical and spiritual - right thinking and good work are inseparable. An ascetic and modest man, Connie is soon established as a religious teacher in Bahrein gaining the respect of the local Imams and Sheik. The book unfolds the story of the spread of this teaching throughout the Middle and Far East among ground engineers and religious leaders. This spread parallels the development of Tom's aviation business eastward from Bahrein to Australia.Shute handles the interwoven themes in masterly fashion - pioneering flying across India, Burma and Indonesia, Tom's tolerance of Connie's religious teaching and the attention it brings, the hostile reaction of Colonial authorities and Tom's ultimate support for his friend, and his love for Connie's sister Nadezna.In writing this book, Shute must surely have drawn on his experiences during his flight in a light aircraft to Australia in 1948. The descriptions are evocative, the characters believable and there is much emotion as the story unfolds. Mature Nevil Shute at his very best.Copyright MMI - MMXVII Nevil Shute Foundation

  • Roz Morris
    2019-01-29 23:54

    There's something about Nevil Shute's prose that is quite beguiling. It's not poetic or florid; more it's a quality of the way he scrutinises the emotions of his characters. His narration is cool, but much lies under the surface. The usual mood is reserve, endurance. But under that quiet exterior there is turbulence indeed.The narrator of Round The Bend is Alan Cutter, an aircraft engineer, pilot and entrepreneur who starts an air freight business in Bahrain. The story is the account of his friendship with Connie Shaklin, an engineer who founds a new religion. This is the second novel of Shute's that I've read. The first was the most famous; On The Beach. As with On The Beach, Round the Bend begins slowly and in an unassuming way. But this quality of observation is just acute and intelligent enough to keep you reading. And then something happens that strikes a lightning bolt through the life of the narrator. Shute reminds me of another of my favourite novelists, Andrew Miller. They share the same quality of tenderising you. Their characters' interior landscapes draw you into a place of sensitivity. Shute's characteristic flavour is emotional burdens such as guilt or yearning, and especially missed opportunities. This book's plot is quiet, but you are still gripped by a sense of increasing pressure. Despite its title it is not meandering. One of the triumphs of this book, for me, is the setting. It has great charm. The Bahrain airstrip is a stripped-down place of sand, hangars and engines. The main characters hop between the continents, delivering goods, setting up more export bases, leaving behind personnel who spread Shaklin's infleunce. Shute would never be so clumsy as to make the comparison with angels, these people who spend so much time in the sky in their machines, but you are drawn to entertain yourself with the idea. A charming, haunting story.

  • Charlotte
    2019-02-19 17:52

    This was so totally lovely. I didn't even know it was actually a book about religion, or really, about God more than religion, thank goodness, because otherwise I probably wouldn't have thought I'd like it much. But I did. There's something I love about the just post-war novelists--this style was a bit similar to Jessica Mitford or Somerset Maugham, not in any tonal way, but in the sort of clipped dialog, and passages of very matter of fact description, and some of the lovely British slang of that period. In addition to being completely ahead of his time in matters of religious understanding, tolerance of the Other, and male-female relationships, Nevil Shute is such a good storyteller. Maybe the start of a Shute kick.

  • Peter
    2019-01-28 21:40

    Mystical and magnificent - this book was real surprise to me. Post WW2, Shute is asking himself the fundamental questions of man's existence, through what starts off as an adventure story based on the life of a young Briton obsessed with aircraft. The other main character is a charismatic young man - half Russian and half Chinese - who is a skilled aircraft engineer. Shute and the characters he creates embark on what effectively becomes a search for religious enlightenment. One of them finds his aircraft workshops. It might seem a sort of Zen and the Art of Aircraft Maintenance, but it's not as weird as it sounds. It's moving, thought-provoking and a worthwhile read.

  • Stuart
    2019-02-18 15:47

    My favorite Shute book. A no-nonsense engineer grapples with the disturbing possibility that his best airplane mechanic may in fact be an incarnation of the Messiah. Imagine Richard Bach’s “Illusions,” except not written by a drugged-up hippie. Now visualize “Atlas Shrugged," except not written by a fascist propagandist. Mix non-violently and you have this weird, compelling, unique fable about a man trying to reconcile Modernism with Mysticism, finding spiritual value in technical precision, and grudgingly opening up to the possibility of the divine.

  • John R.
    2019-01-24 15:38

    Nevil Shute is a great writer and much more subtle and seductive than might be expected. A plain-spoken man tells his life story which includes the story of his dealings with a life-long friend and a transcendent spiritual experience is the result. No one who has ever read the book on the basis of my recommendation has ever expressed disappointment.

  • Phil
    2019-02-18 16:54

    First of all, I'd like to say that, had it been available to me to give this novel a 65-70% rating, rather than having to decide between 60 and 80% then that's what I would have done. It's a bold book - all the bolder given its historical context - and in common with all Shute's work its examination of how human beings can live decently, faced with extraordinary circumstances, is thought-provoking and involving. It tells a good story too. Its weakness really lies with a naivety, or overoptimism, about some aspects of human behaviour which, sadly, seem irreducible, regardless of one's good intentions. Let me explain...This is a tale told by an Englishman of humble origins who, at the tail-end of the British Empire, anticipates the economic rise of the new world of oil wealth in the Gulf and builds a successful business servicing its need for air transport. But it is more especially his account of the growing fame and influence of one of his friends and employees, a Eurasian mechanic who introduces a philosophical, religious approach to the work of aero engineering, and in doing so gains a following as a religious teacher among his fellow engineers - Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, and Buddhist - wherever the air transport company operates. The barriers and prejudices the two encounter from the old order are intertwined. Our narrator, Tom Cutter, has to cope with his culture-bound English parents' casual racism in referring to all non-Europeans as 'wogs', although he himself apostrophises the same people - Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, Burmese, Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians - all as 'Asiatics', and is very candid that he prefers to employ them because they will accept low pay. There is one particularly shocking episode in which one of his planes is prevented from unloading in 'white' Australia because it is piloted by an Indian, a boycott led by trade unions and supported by the government. Institutional racism, condescension and paternalism are the norm: Cutter has to go cap in hand to an aircraft company to buy one of their planes, despite clearly being able to pay for it; the 'British Resident' in Bahrain censures him for accepting a business loan offered by a wealthy local Sheikh; the preacher Connie Shaklin is all but deported by the same panjandrum because of his closeness to the local people and their religion.Shute saw and challenged the absurdities and injustices of these aspects of his 'own' world, and by extension the inevitability of change, including that effected by armed anticolonial actions taking place at the time, the late 1940s: Cutter first employs Shaklin when his previous boss, an American running guns to Vietnamese and Indonesian rebels, is imprisoned. He also understood the importance of religious faith as a focus for collective identity and personal conduct in many places throughout Asia, although it's here I fear he was overoptimistic in describing a wholly positive response to attempts to 'modernise' people's application of that faith to everyday life. Even in the 1940s, I have grave doubts that a non-Muslim outsider, preaching unconventional applications of the Qur'an to a deeply conservative people, would have gained the approval and collaboration of imams, local leaders, or even those people themselves in the open-minded way that Connie manages.As a novel, this is a fine and interesting book, an insight into a vanished world which only half a century ago was a live one for many of its author's fellow Englishmen seeking to maintain their own moral, social, and ethnic assumptions in an environment very different from that in which they had grown up. It's a generous and, as I have said, optimistic book, and it tries hard to establish common ground between disparate peoples through the shared central tenets of their indigenous religions, in order to suggest the possibility of a better, less divided world. It is interesting that Tom Cutter, who has evinced throughout absolutely no interest in his own nominal Christianity is, by the end, speaking of Connie in explicitly Christian terms. Sadly, however, I think Nevil Shute allowed his own decency and desire for better things to come to occlude the evidence of much religion as a deliberate tool of division, politically and parochially manipulated, and preferred by many practitioners as a mark of exclusivity rather than its opposite. 'Twas ever thus, and a great shame. But as a study of what might have been hoped for, in the comparatively recent past, this novel is very much worth the read, and Nevil Shute's reputation as a chronicler of a humane, idealistic British attitude to a changing world deserving of preservation.

  • Yvor
    2019-01-30 23:48

    Nevil Shute is one of my favorite authors. Round the Bend is an adventure/romance novel set in the first half of the 20th Century. It explores the themes of friendship, the early days of civil aviation, discrimination & prejudice, and how humanity might respond to a new Prophet or Manifestation were he to appear in the middle of the 20th century. My personal preference is the unabridged audiobook version. But Nevil Shute is not a difficult author to read and I am sure my friends would enjoy this book.

  • Vikas Datta
    2019-01-25 16:57

    Absolutely fascinating... the best rationale of religion as a reason for diligence and pride in one's work, and above all, the tale of a messianic figure who really inspires but never gets swept away by the adulation he commands. But the narrator is no less a hero, for his diligence and openness, which is remarkable for the time he is in... A grand narrative of the changing postwar world and one of the best works of this master story-teller...

  • Hugh Lambert
    2019-02-09 23:50

    I have read every book by Mr. Shute and the screenplay I am aware of, and he remains my favorite author. I think this book is his best, and it remains my favorite book I have ever read.Perhaps what I like best is that is seems the last kind of book a post-Victorian English Man would have written, especially one born into the “upper middle class”. He treats the "non-Europeans" like people, and not "wogs". He shows disdain for Europeans who do treat people like "wogs". As a wog myself I appreciate this especially. As an “Air Force brat” the aviation aspects were a great read. All the religions mentioned were handled rather more even-handedly than I would have expected. None were denigrated. The Arabs were not demonized, there were no jingoistic references and the only people dealt with critically were members of the diplomatic core who behaved in a stupid fashion. The story has inspired me to live my life better. It (the story) calls attention to injustice in many forms (especially racism and religious intolerance) and shows that people of good intention can affect solutions to common problems. I related to both one character’s love of flying and the other’s “collecting religions” as a way to better understand how different people see the world.I like this book so much it has become the only book I give as a gift on a regular basis. I find it to be thought-provoking and hopeful. It explains why his work remains popular to this day.

  • Lynn Pribus
    2019-02-16 21:30

    Not my favorite of Shute's which would probably be TOWN LIKE ALICE. Or ON THE BEACH. Both of those had characters who were emotional in complex, gripping life-and-death situations.This one, other the other hand, involved Tom Cutter, a Brit whose main emotional ties were with aircraft from the time he was very young. The novel is rather like a tedious log of flying and buying various planes as he builds his own flying business in the Middle East and Asia from his home airfield of Bahrain -- an island nation in the Persian Gulf (had to look this one up, I confess) -- which was not yet independent from Great Britain at the time of this book soon after WWII.In the later parts of the book, Connie (a male), a partly Chinese character from very early in the novel, become a quasi-religious figure venerated by Muslims (especially those involved in aircraft maintenance) across a very wide area with the area. His followers charter planes to travel great distances to simply touch something he has touched. It all got really odd for me by that time.I did finish the book, hoping (futilely) against hope that Cutter would make some true human lasting connections, but it never seemed to happen.

  • Taly
    2019-02-03 17:36

    This is the fourth book of Nevil Shute that I have read. The three others being Pied Piper, A town like Alice and No Highway. Shute is a wonderful writer and story teller and his books are so intelligent and wise. As in many of his books, this one also revolves around airplanes and the aviation world. It is worth reading this book because it can give the reader an understanding of the world after the 2nd World War. The book was written in 1956 and it is incredible how things have changes in not such a very long time. The whole western point of view on race and religion has changed completely. It is difficult to believe that less than 60 years ago, as Shute describes in his book, an aeroplane could not land in Australia because it was maintained by an Asian crew. Indeed, today we are living in the other extreme. This it is the age of politicly correctness that in its best only masks an inconvenient truth but so often comes very close to sheer dishonesty and cover-up.I enjoyed this book, but not as much as his other books. I read it till the end, but it took me a while to finish it. Still, I would sincerely recommend it because of all the reasons I mentioned here.

  • Gwenyth
    2019-02-18 18:46

    I picked up an old hardback edition of this book for about fifty cents at a local book fair in Oakland about 45 years ago, having no idea what joy this author would be bringing me in the years to come. Like all of Nevil Shute's books, it is a quick, thoroughly engrossing read. On the surface simply the story of an airplane mechanic and pilot, it is also a reworking of the Jesus story -- something I am glad I didn't know in the beginning, as that might have put me off reading it. The value of the religious aspect for me is that it shows how quickly people can become caught up in new religious or spiritual ideas and ideals. For me, though, this was just a damn good story, and one I couldn't put down, as I find to be true for any of Shute's books.

  • James
    2019-01-20 16:47

    Ordinary people doing extraordinary things-without even realizing it! I have collected all of Shute's books over the years and have enjoyed reading them many times. This is his best. Tom Cutter sets out to make a living in the airplane business and is successful doing so in the Middle East. THe real story is Connie Shaklin, his chief mechanic and his development as a messianic figure and the prejudice he encounters to his message.

  • Alice
    2019-02-01 22:58

    This book was completely different from what I expected, even several chapters in. It starts out as a quaint book that shows the really weird way Europeans thought of the world and "Asiatics" just after World War II - the author is so 1940's/50's British in the language that he uses. But, somehow it turns into a story about how an ordinary, but good, man can become divine. It's a plausible scenario for what happened to other "prophets" in antiquity, but in a relatively modern setting.

  • Tom Burkhalter
    2019-02-16 18:55

    An airplane mechanic and pilot goes to the Arabian Gulf to seek his fortune after World War II. He reunites with an old friend...who may be the next Enlightened One...who is also and airplane mechanic. This is a thought-provoking book by a writer whose work has influenced me in many ways.

  • Kim
    2019-01-31 20:30

    This is a mesmerizing tale of East meets West. This is the second time I've read this book and I realized during this reading what a fantastic story-teller Mr. Shute was. I highly, highly recommend this book.

  • Wei Lien Chin
    2019-01-22 15:35

    To be honest, if not for the book box sale and the fact that I loved Shute's other book, On the Beach, I wouldn't have picked up this book at all. The basic premise of Round the Bend feels like a modern retelling of Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, but with an aviation twist somewhere in between. What Siddhartha succeeded in doing, however, is to discuss spiritual/religious topics through the lens of the titular character, Siddhartha — that isn't the case here. Shute's Siddhartha, a man named Connie Shaklin, barely factors into the story at all until about 65% into the book. In fact, vast majority of the book is populated by painstaking details of the protagonist's aviation business — how much money was made, which countries he expanded to, which local official he had tea with, what time he met with the official, how long they stayed for lunch, who else he visited along the way, who he had to talk to to acquire a more planes, etc. Even though these details added much colour to the time period in which this story is set (mid 20th century), it becomes tedious after some time. This book numbers at around 370 pages, but feels a whole lot longer. Every itty-bitty detail of the protagonist's business dealings is documented here, which means that the deeper meanings are somewhat buried beneath everything. I also feel that, for a book about how a religious person impacted the lives of those around him, it doesn't feel like the book achieved what was advertised. I don't feel like Tom Cutter, the protagonist, is in any way changed by the end of the book. I feel like he begins the story as one character, becomes another character some time in the middle and... stalls. Connie Shaklin, unfortunately, does not leave a mark on the book's main characters, at least not the main ones, and certainly does not leave much of anything on me as a reader. In short, this book is overly long, with some colourful descriptions of Southeast Asia and the Gulf during the post-war years. If you are looking for some spiritual enlightenment, you are not going to find much of it here.

  • Edmund Bloxam
    2019-01-25 15:41

    A Lesson In Taking Advantage of 'Foreigners' and How To Use Religion to Manipulate People.This book is so matter-of-fact, I will write my review as much like it as possible. It is a first person book. There is virtually no description at all. There is only the story. It is a story about a person starting an aviation company in the Middle East. Somewhere early on, somebody dies, but there's no emotion in this book either, so there we go. It just happened. Much of it reads like a travel itinerary ('I flew from Bahrain to Bali, flying across the West coast of Siam, stopping in Singapore to refuel and rest' or such like). Alright, this is a poem to hard work and straight talking. Fine. How does he become successful? 'I only employ Asiatics, because they live simple lives and I can pay them less. I don't employ white people'.The author goes out of his way to show that his character is not racist (apart from that massive fundamental mentioned above). About two thirds into this desert (literal and figurative), it becomes clear that the real plot is about one of the worker's who has, inadvertently, started a religious cult based around hard work. Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus (and a Sheikh) begin to follow him around and begin to write down everything he says and treat his every word as god-like. (His name isn't Brian). He says working hard is like being with God. Which means that the first-person narrative character has a low wage staff who work extra hard because they think that God has told them to. The main character is extremely tolerant to all religions, so there are some lists of religious practices. There might have been a love story too, but it is less important than the planes.As an unintended critique of how religion is a tool to control the masses, it works really well.

  • Amy Heap
    2019-01-20 23:45

    I am usually all about the feelings, but I strangely enjoyed this novel about planes, the Middle East, Asia, attitudes to race and marriage just after WWII. Tom Cutter is a practical, dispassionate sort of fellow who loves planes, and after the war and a disappointment in love (much more tragic than that makes it sound, but he was very cool about it), he ends up running a charter business in the Middle East. One of his old friends, a Eurasian man, comes to be his ground engineer, and ends up a religious figure, based on his work ethic. There's a lot of travelling, much airplane and travel detail, and a really fascinating look at serving God by doing the very best job.

  • Dean
    2019-02-02 23:35

    Get to grips with the worlds work life balance

  • Abby mamacos
    2019-01-19 19:53

    Another winner!

  • Pat Cummings
    2019-02-05 17:41

    Nevil Shute himself thought Round the Bend was his best novel. The messiah-figure of this story is Shak Lin, a Western-educated Malayan aircraft mechanic, who begins life as a Bristish boy named Connie Shaklin. His message is the moral imperative of good maintenance of the machines upon which others’ lives depend:...we are not like that, we engineers. We are men of understanding and of education, on whom is laid responsibility that men may travel in these aeroplanes as safely as if they were sitting by the well in the cool of the evening.Or, as is quoted within the introduction to the paperback where I first read it:…Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed, But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need… —Rudyard Kipling, The Sons of MarthaThe religious movement that grows up around this inoffensive and admirable dictum eventually leads to Shaklin’s martyrdom—and the quiet growth of a new religion. The story shows the way a religious meme grows; in seemingly-barren soil, fertilized by the religions that precede it—and watered by the blood of martyrs.The narrator has the last word:I still think Connie was a human man, a very, very good one—but a man. I have been wrong in my judgments many times before; if now I am ignorant and blind, I’m sorry, but it’s no new thing. If that should be the case though, it means that I have had great privileges in my life, perhaps more so than any man alive today. Because it means that on the fields and farms of England, on the airstrips of the desert and the jungle, in the hangars of the Persian Gulf and on the tarmacs of the southern islands, I have walked and talked with God.

  • Matt Kelland
    2019-01-31 21:48

    I'm going to give this five stars because I loved it. It's not a great book, and most people won't see the appeal at all, but it had so much in that just spoke to me.I got this after hearing that it was the inspiration for Illusions, my favorite book ever. I can sort of see why people say that, but I don't see it that way. Round the Bend is about religion and airplanes, yes, but it's also about entrepreneurship, colonialism, guilt, and most of all, it's about how we're all basically human beings, regardless of the color of our skin or the way we pray (or don't). The only sour note for me was that even though the protagonist is so tolerant of working with "Asiatics" instead of Europeans, he still doesn't seem to see any problem with paying them a tiny salary and making thousands of pounds for himself. Exploitation with a smile is still exploitation, but that simply didn't occur to people at that time. However, he comes across very favorably in comparison to the other Europeans, or the Australians, who seem to be almost as racist as the apartheid South Africans.The writing is very simple and elegant. It's easy to read, and I read the entire book in two sittings. I haven't enjoyed any of the Shute novels I read before - perhaps I'll try them again some day. Reading A Town Like Alice and On the Beach when I was 15 or 16 probably wasn't the best way to appreciate his work.

  • Lenny Husen
    2019-02-04 16:38

    This is my least favorite of Shute's book so far, and the fifth I've read.The plot was slow going and the ending was severely disappointing to me. Would have given the book 4 stars if Shute hadn't blown the ending so badly. I won't spoil it for you, but will just say that I needed things to work out better for the main character, Tom, in order to have the novel be satisfying and for the story to have any meaning to me.Good points: well-written, and SO interesting to read about the Persian Gulf in the early 1950's, as well as all the countries the main character travels to, the prejudices against "Asiatics" at the time. The main character lives in Bahrain, visits England, and travels in the course of his air-freight business to UAE (Sharjah), Myanmar, Thailand, Bali, Cambodia, Australia, Pakistan, India, Iraq, and maybe even more that I'm forgetting.So, so fascinating from an historial perspective and a geographical one. I loved the descriptions of the main character, Tom, in particular, his creating and building up his airfreight business, and the challenges he faces as an Entrepreneur. All the Cutter Airfreight Business groung engineers, pilots and business employees were good people and I liked them all. The religion aspect I could take or leave, but it was interesting and humourous (literally chuckled out loud) at times. Connie Shak Lin was likable (although not divine, in my opinion, like Jesus, a very good man and possibly a little bit nutty). As I said, for the religion to have any meaning to me, the story would have needed to end in happiness for those that served and loved Connie best.

  • Gerald
    2019-02-15 23:37

    Another wonderful novel by Nevil Shute. From a humble beginning when he is 14 years old working as a clown in an aerial circus, Tom Cutter soon learns everything about maintaining the airplanes and eventually to fly them. During World War II he finds himself working as a civilian in Egypt helping keep all the British airplanes flying.Following the war he has saved enough to buy a small Fox-Moth airplane. After this purchase and with his recently acquired knowledge of "the East," Tom begins a cargo service based as Bahrain in the Arabian Sea. From this most humble beginning of his doing all the flying, all the aircraft maintenance, and all the bookkeeping, Tom soon finds that he has much more business than he can handle alone. He begins to expand by acquiring several more airplanes and a number of new employees. He is able to keep his rates and associated costs quite low by hiring only well chosen Asiatics whose needs and required salary are much lower than what a similarly qualified European would be. In the beginning he flew cargo only within a couple of hundred miles of Bahrain. This evolves into flying thousands of miles from Bahrain, as far as Bali in southern Indonesia on as much as 9 or 10 day assignments for oil companies and others.Tom's business takes some interesting turns as the years go by. This was a most enjoyable book. I most heartily recommend this fun read.

  • Jeremy Neal
    2019-02-13 22:45

    Very enjoyable in many ways, but not close to the extremely high standards of A Town Called Alice or On the Beach, both of which were amazing. On the Beach especially will probably stay with me forever, and I read it 25 years ago. Despite its shortcomings, Round the Bend, once again underlines an impression that Shute is underrated in the world of literature, since even on his worst day, he's a competent writer.Round the Bend is the least engaging of his novels that I've read so far. The protagonoist, Tom Cutter, is a very solid, pragmatic and dependable type, but in my view he suffers greatly from a lack of imagination. He, once or twice, alludes to having feelings about something or other, but soon gets himself back under control and goes on building a sensible aviation business in the middle east.Shute is known somewhat for writing 'entrepreneurial fiction.' It's an odd thought that such a genre could ever exist, but it seems quite accurate. A Town Called Alice is very much in that vein, and Round the Bend is no different. There is a major religious sub-plot in the novel, which is unusual and interesting, but on the whole, that doesn't rescue the novel which relies too heavily on a central character who basically lacks passion. He ends up rather lonely as a result and it's sad to see. Ultimately, a good read, no romance, three and a half stars.