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Book Review: "Most Secret" by Nevil Shute

by Annie Kapur 4 days ago in literature

5/5 - a beautiful story of survival and war...

I have read many books by Nevil Shute in my time and honestly, I can say that he is possibly in my top twenty favourite writers at the moment, alongside his more post-modern counterpart, Ian McEwan. Nevil Shute is probably best known for his 1950 novel “A Town Like Alice” and his 1957 novel “On the Beach”. But there are more of his novels that are worth reading than just those. I remember when I read his early 1939 novel “What Happened to the Corbetts?” And I was absolutely taken. I proceeded to read books like “Landfall” and “Beyond the Black Stump”, “The Far Country” and one of my favourites, “Requiem for a Wren”. The last Nevil Shute book I read before this one was “Trustee from the Toolroom” and though that too, was just as good - I think it is safe to say that this next one I will be talking about is definitely in my top three Nevil Shute books of all time. Nevil Shute may not just be known for his ability to write so emotionally about the war times, but he is also known for making his novels’ characters especially heartbreaking and upsetting from time to time. But wherever there is heartbreak there is also hope afterwards, and that is something I love about these books.

A naval commander tells the story of a secret fishing vessel in which intelligence is collected during the war. The fishing vessel is called “The Genevieve” and it is focused on resisting the Germans on an occupied coastal area of France. It is later discovered by two very important young men in the story named Rhodes and Boden who were based in Devon, England. Whilst moving through the voyage of this intelligence vessel, we get to know more and more about the men and how they ended up there. Oliver Boden’s story is especially heartbreaking I think and it is just a matter of time until you are quite literally just in tears. Though, I am not actually going to tell you what happens, I am going to say it includes the bombing of England during the second World War.

As we move further through the story, we start to see the tension rise as people notice this fishing boat. Nevil Shute is never short of a story for redemption, tragedy and the matter of hope through suffering and this is really what the basis of this story is about. You can definitely see and hear it being a 90s Spielberg film if it could, or maybe another war film by Christopher Nolan.

I think the one thing I really loved about this novel was the character of Oliver Boden because of the fact there is such an incredibly sad story behind him and it is told in such an emotional way. If you really want to get hurt I would suggest reading about the life and times of Oliver Boden whilst he was first posted out as a Junior Officer.

In conclusion, I cannot get enough of Nevil Shute’s novels and honestly, I am definitely thinking about reading them all. Yet, I have this feeling that not many other books by him will be able to top this one. It’s written beautifully with these long, intense scenes where all we are doing is waiting and feeling, it is written with such incredibly tragic and amazing characters who work through any amount of suffering and, finally, there is the story which I wager will make you cry. It is on the whole, an absolutely beautiful book to read during this autumn season when it rains and cools altogether.


Annie Kapur

Film and Writing (M.A)

105K+ Reads on Vocal

Focus in Film: Adaptation from Literature, Horror Filmmaking Styles and Auteur Cinema

IG: @AnnieApproximately

Pronouns: (she/her/hers)

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