Friday, 14 November 2014

AusReading Month: The Rainbow and the Rose by Nevil Shute

Pilot Ronnie Clarke learns that Johnnie Pascoe, the man who had taught him to fly many years before, has crashed his plane while attempting to rescue a sick child from her isolated home on the rugged west coast of Tasmania. Pascoe is lying badly injured with only the child's mother to nurse him. The child's condition begins to improves but unless Pacoe receives medical attention for his fractured skull he will die.

Clarke is the narrator of the story and as he reminisces over the past and his association with the injured pilot, he makes the decision to go to the small town in Tasmania where Pascoe is based and endeavour to fly a doctor in to the area.

Clarke persuades the reluctant young local doctor to go with him and later finds out that he has never flown before. The first attempt to assist the injured man allows the doctor to drop a suitcase of medical equipment out of the plane onto the tiny airstrip next to the homestead but the doctor himself is unable to get out of the plane. Clarke returns to town as the weather conditions begin to deteriorate.
He spends the night at Pascoe's home waiting for a chance to try again the next day and learns about the older man's past, his secret history and painful memories.

As with all the books I've read by this author, I found the story simple but compelling. Nevil Shute has an easy style but he develops his characters so well. He has the ability to take a very ordinary sort of person, unwrap them and reveal their value and worth in the midst of their weaknesses and foibles. In doing this he helps the reader to empathise with his characters and I always come away from his books with a sense that he must have been a man who understood human nature but his response to that knowledge was not cynicism but kindness.

Throughout this book, Shute uses an interesting flashback technique which confused me at first and I wondered a few times what was going on. After a while I began to enjoy the way he used the technique even though it felt clunky at times. It was an interesting way to divulge information that the narrator would not have known.

This isn't one of his more well known books. Certainly, A Town Like Alice would be his best known book here in Australia and there was a TV mini-series of the story plus an earlier movie version. This is one version I've seen:

Other Nevil Shute books I've read and would recommend are:

Pied Piper  - set in WW2 in England and France.
On the Beach  - (near bottom of post) a novel dealing with a post nuclear catastrophe; set in Southern  Australian.

Nevil Shute Norway was born in England in 1899. He studied Engineering Science and worked as an aeronautical engineer. During World War 2 he worked on the development of secret weapons and after the war he settled in Australia where he lived until his death in 1960.

 Linking to Brona's Books:


Brona said...

I never knew that Nevil Shute wasn't his full name!
I read A Town Like Alice after watching the Bryan Brown mini-series way back when. I was only a young teen at the time & found the book "not romantic" enough!
I reall should try it again.

Lasy year, nancy reviewed On the Beach which made want to read it too - just not enough time to read and reread all the books I'd like too.

Just as well there are lots of lovely reviewer's, like yourself, who allow me to read some of these books vicariously...:-)

Anonymous said...

Nevil Shute impressed me during AusReadingMonth 2013. I read On the Beach. The movie lingered in my mind for years. I just could not forget it the feeling of an inevitable end of life and everyone knew it was coming. The tone of the book was reserveredly calm with moments of denial. Chilling. I had not heard of this book, sounds great. I will have to add it to my 'Nevil' list!

Carol said...

'Reservedly calm' describes it well, Nancy. I knew there was no way out of the ending but I was continually expecting some kind of deliverance from it in my moments of denial!

Carol said...

I went & read excellent Nancy's review. Thanks for mentioning that.

Cat said...

My father was a huge fan of NS and I read most of his books years ago but have to confess don't really remember much about them.

Eric Schonblom said...

I like Shute's Trustee from the Toolroom, which features, among other things, navigating a ship to Hawaii by observing the direction of overhead airplanes. It's a treat, I promise you.

Carol said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Eric. I'm more than happy to keep reading his books. I have two more - An Old Captivity & Most Secret - on the bookshelf that I haven't read yet.

Unknown said...

I recently ordered a slew of books. Sadly I forgot my intention to read some Shute. I'll have to wait until my next inflow of ready money.

Sharon Wilfong said...

I saw the miniseries a town like Alice. I remember liking it. I must look it up and see if I can find it on Netflix.