Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Author: Nevil Shute
I am a big fan of old English paperbacks, especially Ian Fleming and Nevil Shute novels. Something about them is just timeless. Landfall is a good example of a Nevil Shute book, combining a war story and a romance. Here we have Jerry Chambers, a hapless RAF Anson pilot who is involved in a friendly fire incident while courting Mona Stevens, a barmaid. After sinking the British sub, he skips town to join Bomber Command, ending the romance, only to redeem himself later in the book while involved in secret testing flying a Vickers Wellington. And that friendly fire incident? There might have been a mistake there, and Mona helps solve that mystery using gossip and hearsay heard at the bar.
Outside of his overuse of the word, presently, Shute is an enjoyable writer and the banter between the couple is both amusing and at at times dated. (Though some of their dialogue must have been possibly scandalous for 1940...) Of course the class issues, so omnipresent in England at the time, also sound incredibly dated.
Shute writes well about the boredom of Coastal Command and Bomber Command ops, but the most shocking part of the story revolves around Mona's father's view of Jerry after he kept her out too late one night. He opines "It made a difference, certainly, that the young man had build a (model) galleon. If it had been anyone else, he have been really angry." Wow, for the first time in recorded dating history, a father of a woman thinks that her suitor being a modeler is a good thing...