When I realised that it took me 85 days to finish A Town Like Alice, I was shocked. That’s a long time to read a book. And in this case, I must stress that it had nothing to do with the quality of the story.
I was shocked… because I know that every time I picked up this book I was hooked. I’d fall into the story and find myself racing through the chapters. The 85 days it took to get to ‘The end’ just doesn’t do this book justice. And it’s purely an indication of what my life has been like over the past few months.
In November 2015, pretty much the day I started this book, I also found out I was pregnant with our second child. A wave of nausea and tiredness hit me from day of conception and lasted till I was 16 weeks along. It was a struggle to make it through everyday life, so to then find the energy to pick up a book at the end of the day? No chance.
But those rare moments when I did manage to open the book were heaven. This was an incredible story of four cultures (English, Australian, Malaysian and Japanese) spanning three different continents over a number of decades. Shute describes the love, and inevitable conflict, shared between these different cultures. It’s mostly fiction, but the story captures times and places in the world that were exactly as described, to which we will never be able to return.
The book taught me about my own backyard: outback Australia. I never knew just how unique our country towns were in the 1950s (and probably still are) and before this book, I didn’t understand the importance of key people to make or break the success of an isolated town.
It makes me want to jump in the car today and drive out to Alice Springs, or at least to a town like Alice. But then again, before starting any outrageous road trips, I better prioritise and focus on having this next baby first.
In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.