Most Secret

I am such a Nevil Shute fan! He was a wonderful storyteller/writer, and his books always completely immerse me in another life and time. Most Secret is the 17th book I’ve read by him. I’m slowing working my way through all his works, and it’s a fun project. And since today is his birthday, I celebrate him by sharing this review with you.  But to start, I’ve copied this short biography for you from the Powell’s Books website:

NEVIL SHUTE NORWAY was born on January 17, 1899 in Ealing, London. After attending the Dragon School and Shrewsbury School, he studied Engineering Science at Balliol College, Oxford. He worked as an aeronautical engineer and published his first novel, Marazan, in 1926. In 1931 he married Frances Mary Heaton and they went on to have two daughters. During the Second World War he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve where he worked on developing secret weapons. After the war he continued to write and settled in Australia where he lived until his death on January 12, 1960. His most celebrated novels include Pied Piper (1942), No Highway (1948), A Town Like Alice (1950) and On the Beach (1957).

Most Secret, from the publisher:

In their trusty fishing boat, Genevieve, armed with only a flame thrower and limited ammunition, a small group of officers and men take a stand against the might of the German army after the fall of France in World War II.

What armament would you propose to give her for the job?” He said: “A flame-thrower—one of the big ones. A flame-thrower and a few Tommy-guns.”

…I paused before replying, wondering how to put it when I saw him. I had to tell my admiral that the Army had proposed a naval expedition, to be commanded by a pseudo-Army officer of curious past history, sailing in a fishing-boat manned principally by foreigners, armed with an unconventional and utterly disgusting weapon, with the object of stiffening morale over on the other side. It was certainly an unusual proposal.

The Germans had used flame throwers during the war, but the British had never used them. The men of this ragtag crew, each with his own backstory which led him to this historic mission, all had reasons to embrace this unusual idea of a young man who desperately wanted to make a difference in the war effort. As usual, Nevil Shute took his time telling this story, carefully building the backgrounds of each character so that we would understand them well at that significant moment in history. It’s a story that shows what a difference one person, or each person, can make in any given circumstance, especially during war. I found it fascinating!

11 thoughts on “Most Secret

  1. JaneGS

    I loved A Town Like Alice so much that I read it twice. I’ve been looking for another book by Nevil Shute, and this one sounds terrific. For some reason, i’m just not interested in On the Beach.

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    1. Robin Post author

      Jane, I’d like to reread A Town Like Alice again. Pied Piper is another of my favorites that I’ve been thinking of rereading. I read On the Beach when I was in high school and I thought it was the most depressing story I’d ever read. I’ll be interested in how I react when I read it again so many years later. 🤷‍♀️

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  2. alison41

    When I was about 16 or 17 I read Round the Bend, and was obsessed by the book. I must have read it 3 or 4 times – couldn’t quite explain why, not to this day. I read A Town Like Alice, also On the Beach (scary) and the title Mazaran rings a very faint bell. Enjoy your project. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

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