The Rainbow and the Rose

As many of you know from my past blog posts, I love the stories of Nevil Shute. He describes things beautifully and doesn’t hurry through the telling. He takes care to build very human characters in interesting and believable situations that reveal their best qualities. His male characters are decent, kind and hardworking. His female characters are intelligent and hardworking, as well. I enjoyed reading The Rainbow and the Rose for exactly those reasons.

Nevil Shute was an aeronautical engineer, and his passion for planes and flying is in many of his books, including The Rainbow and the Rose. This story is about a pilot and a younger man he taught to fly some 30 years earlier…

That year we had a terrible July. I was sitting there one evening half asleep, listening to the radio and the wind outside and the rain beating on the window. The seven o’clock news was just coming on, and I stayed to listen to that before going in to tea. I sat dozing through all the stuff about Egypt and the Middle East, and all the stuff about the floods along the Murray. Then there came a bit that jerked me suddenly awake. The announcer said something like this:

‘It is reported from Tasmania that a pilot flying a small aeroplane upon an errand of mercy crashed this afternoon on a small airstrip on the west coast. The pilot, Captain John Pascoe, was attempting to land to bring a child into hospital, Betty Hoskins, aged seven, who is suffering from appendicitis. There is no practicable land route to the Lewis River and all communications normally take place by sea, but no vessel has been able to enter the river for the last ten days owing to the continuing westerly gales. Captain Pascoe is reported to have sustained a fractured skull.’

I was a bit upset when I heard this news. We all knew Johnnie Pascoe because for a time Sydney had been one of his terminals and he still passed through now and then. The world of aviation is a small one in Australia. But I knew him better than anyone, of course, because I had known him off and on for thirty years, ever since he taught me to fly in England at the Leacaster Flying Club.

That begins an intriguing story of how the main character attempts to rescue both the sick little girl and his seriously wounded pilot friend/mentor. This is an unusual story because the main character identifies so closely with his friend, and under the stress of repeated rescue attempts,  the two characters merge. It’s really quite intriguing how NS wrote this story. I liked it very much.

I chose to read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

8 thoughts on “The Rainbow and the Rose

  1. Marlo Quick

    I have only read A Town Like Alice but I loved it and have read it more than once. After reading your review, I will investigate more of Nevil Shute’s books. Thanks and happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Robin Post author

      Cathy746books, A Town Like Alice is one that I’d already like to reread. It’s quite a story, and he’s such a wonderful storyteller.

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  2. Debi

    While I’ve certainly heard his name before on various book lists and whatnot, I’ve never really heard much about Nevil Shute and his books. I never really considered picking one up before, and it sounds like that’s been a mistake. Thanks Robin, for expanding my horizons!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Robin Post author

      Debi, I love to find new-to-me authors, and I, too, had seen his name but hadn’t ever read anything by him until just a few years ago. I fell in love with his quiet, gentle storytelling. His characters are decent people, and I find him very calming to read. My favorite so far is A Town Like Alice, which I had seen as a Masterpiece Theatre production many years ago. I listened to the audiobook version and loved it. Another one I like a lot was Pied Piper.

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    1. Robin Post author

      Nan, thank you so much for the link to the newsletters! I will definitely subscribe to it! I follow the NS organization on Facebook, which is fun, but I didn’t know about the newsletters.

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