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No Highway [Paperback]

Nevil Shute
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 16.04 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

July 2002
Theodore Honey is a scientist with an interest in the paranormal and a job testing metal fatigue in aircraft. When a new transatlantic plane, the Reindeer, is found to have crashed in Labrador, Theodore believes he knows why. The scientist is sent to the scene of the crash. En route to Canada Theodore learns he is flying in a Reindeer and is in danger.

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Review

 • "No Highway is a novel which engages the heart and grips the mind." --Evening Standard

 • "Shute was a brilliant storyteller and terrific example for any writer." --Express

 • "Mr. Shute is a storyteller in the tradition of R. L. Stevenson and Kipling." --Evening News --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Nevil Shute Norway was born in London and worked as an aeronautical engineer at Vickers before setting up his own airship company. Worried that his reputation as a fiction writer would damage his engineering career, he wrote without using his surname. He served in both world wars and was a commander in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in World War II, working on secret projects. After the war he became a full time author completing a fictionalised account of his war time experience in 'Most Secret'. Moving to Australia in 1949 he based seven of his novels against that background including his most successful title On The Beach. This was subsequently a hugely successful film starring Gregory Peck, Antony Perkins and Ava Gardner and became arguably the major after the bomb movie of all time. Shute became one of the top selling authors of the 50s and 60s with wide appeal to a broad international market attracted by strong story lines which were always meticulously researched..

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars 60 years old and still a thrilling read. Nov. 29 2009
By Heather Pearson TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
How is it that a book published 60 years ago can still be timely?
The issue of aircraft safety comes to light with every flight incident that hits the news headlines. In this novel, Mr. Shute considers the potential of metal fatigue due to various flight stresses. When Mr. Honey's research first comes to the attention of Mr. Scott, his manager, it is met with scepticism. While further explanation brings Mr. Scott round to his way of understanding, he experiences this disbelief with each person to whom he presents his thesis.
History has shown that this is often the case with new ideas/research.
One of my favourite passages in the novel is when the actress Monica Teasdale is reflecting upon her life. In retrospect, she very clearly realizes who the most important people have been. It's not her "movie" people as you might expect. I can only hope that I view my life and relationships with such clarity.
I feel that this novel should still have a broad audience including historians, those with and interest in aeronautics and sociology.
I have read several books by Mr. Shute and each has been as gripping as the previous
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5.0 out of 5 stars The technology is dated--the story isn't. July 4 2002
Format:Paperback
When Dr. Theodore Honey, a boffin of an aviation scientist, predicts that the wings on a new type of aircraft will begin falling off, he is sent across to Canada to investigate a previous crash. Bad choice--he is so unimpressive that when he learns that the aircraft he is on has already exceeded his estimated time to failure, he can only stop the flight by wrecking it when it stops to refuel at Gander. Almost everyone believes he's crazy except for a few--including the assistant director at his place of work, a stewardess, and a movie actress.
Shute is at his best in his characterizations--such as Monica Teasdale the fading American movie actress, who falls in love with Honey as she once did with a man before she became famous. She soon realizes she can never have Honey and must step aside for the stewardess, who can give him children and maintain him in his work, as well as give him love. The details are amusing--the actress, from Indiana, uses the word "hoosier" to the mystification of the British characters
As in most of Shute's books, there are no villians. The fact that many of the characters are working against each other does not make any of them evil, and when the truth is revealed, they quickly begin to work together.
For the information of readers, the book made a fairly poor movie starring (I kid you not), Jimmy Stewart as Honey. But as so few of Shute's books were made into movies, it is worth watching for that reason.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An uplifting story that may seem trite these days... Nov. 23 1999
By R. L. MILLER - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
...after all, this is an age of cynicism. It's the story of nerdy scientist Theodore Honey (the British term of that time was "boffin"--it specifically targeted scentists) who discovers a potentially deadly flaw in a new airliner. The problem is that nobody but his boss Dr. Scott (from whose viewpoint this story is told) has any faith in his theory. After all, oddballs don't have very high credibility factors. So Scott sends Honey over to Canada to investigate a recent crash of one of those planes, only to have it turn out that the plane he takes is also one of that model. Which makes for a particularly gripping scene--it's the centerpiece of the James Stewart movie based on this book. Other important characters here are Honey's motherless daughter, an actress he's a fan of who's also on the flight--he reminds her of an old friend she knew before she became famous, the plane's captain who is increasingly unsure that Honey is a crackpot, plus a stewardess who not only shares her captain's point of view--but finds Honey strangely compelling in an even more important way. Nowadays you don't often find this human a story in so short a book. Shute's best known book is "On The Beach".
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The technology is dated--the story isn't. July 4 2002
By Gary M. Greenbaum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When Dr. Theodore Honey, a boffin of an aviation scientist, predicts that the wings on a new type of aircraft will begin falling off, he is sent across to Canada to investigate a previous crash. Bad choice--he is so unimpressive that when he learns that the aircraft he is on has already exceeded his estimated time to failure, he can only stop the flight by wrecking it when it stops to refuel at Gander. Almost everyone believes he's crazy except for a few--including the assistant director at his place of work, a stewardess, and a movie actress.
Shute is at his best in his characterizations--such as Monica Teasdale the fading American movie actress, who falls in love with Honey as she once did with a man before she became famous. She soon realizes she can never have Honey and must step aside for the stewardess, who can give him children and maintain him in his work, as well as give him love. The details are amusing--the actress, from Indiana, uses the word "hoosier" to the mystification of the British characters
As in most of Shute's books, there are no villians. The fact that many of the characters are working against each other does not make any of them evil, and when the truth is revealed, they quickly begin to work together.
For the information of readers, the book made a fairly poor movie starring (I kid you not), Jimmy Stewart as Honey. But as so few of Shute's books were made into movies, it is worth watching for that reason.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They don't write them like that any more Feb. 16 2009
By Roger Brunyate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This 1948 novel was one of the first adult books I read as a boy; remembering it fondly, I wanted to see how it stood up now. The brief answer: very well, although it shows its age. Such a book could never be published today, and in many ways that is a pity.

Nevil Shute Norway was an aircraft engineer by profession, and most of his novels (of which A TOWN LIKE ALICE is the best-known) touch to some degree on flying; in NO HIGHWAY, aircraft engineering is the entire background. The narrator, Dennis Scott, is head of a research department at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, England. One of his scientists, a rather unworldly widower named Theodore Honey, is convinced that Britain's latest transatlantic passenger aircraft, the Reindeer, is liable to catastrophic metal fatigue in the tail after so many hours' flying time, and convinces Scott that all Reindeers must be grounded before they approach that maximum. Unfortunately, two aircraft have already reached the danger point. One has recently crashed in a remote area of Labrador, and when Honey is sent out to investigate, he discovers he is traveling in the other one.

Shute's strength is that he writes what he knows, straightforwardly and without frills. He assumes that the reader will be interested in the technology, and in the bureaucratic procedures that Scott must go through to convince the appropriate agencies of the danger. It is true that some of Honey's theories sound kooky, to put it mildly, and it is hard to believe that time-to-fracture is as predictable as he makes out. But in 1954, six years after the book was published, Britain's Comet fleet, the world's first commercial passenger jet aircraft, suffered a series of fatal accidents that were ultimately put down to metal fatigue; the episode essentially ended Britain's domination of the transatlantic market. That era was about to change anyhow; one of the pleasures of the book is to go back before the jumbo jet, when transatlantic aircraft has to refuel at places like Gander in Newfoundland, and carried only a few dozen passengers in easy luxury.

NO HIGHWAY is also a heart-warming love story. This requires some suspension of contemporary cynicism, for Shute's character painting (especially his women, often referred to as "girls") now seems rather simplistic, in common with many of the popular writers of his generation. They don't write them like that any more -- with one notable exception: I suspect that the popularity of Alexander McCall Smith (author of THE SUNDAY PHILOSOPHY CLUB) is precisely because he too writes in the simple emotional terms of his boyhood reading. If you want Smith's warmth applied to more boyish subjects, you might do worse than look into Shute.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic novel of aviation Jan. 7 2010
By Michael T Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is one of Neville Shute's best novels (I keep saying that) and a pretty good movie was made of it with Jimmy Stewart, Glynis Johns and Marlene Dietrich. The story is about a shy and rather homely aircraft engineer who was widowed in the war and lives with his eight year old daughter. He is reclusive and not very well liked by his bosses but he is brilliant. He has a theory about metal fatigue and is using a tail plane from the brand new British trans-Atlantic airliner as a test bed. It hasn't occurred to him that the test, if successful, will result in grounding the fleet of planes. Then, he learns that one of the airliners has crashed in Canada and he is asked to go to the crash site to see if the tail is intact. He is an "inside man" and doesn't want to go but he is "volunteered" by his boss. Flying across the Atlantic at night, he is horrified to learn that not only is this one of the "Reindeer" airliners but it has exceeded the safe number of flying hours according to his calculations. Upset, he confides his fears to a famous movie actress who is on the flight and who was a favorite of his late wife. The stewardess tries to discourage him from upsetting the passengers but both women begin to fear he knows what he is talking about. They make it to the fuel stop at Gander but, to prevent the plane taking off again, he pulls the lever on the undercarriage, causing the plane to settle down onto the taxiway. A furious row ensues and the story is an enjoyable scientific adventure story and a romance as both women become very attracted to this shy engineer. I read this book in the 1940s when it came out and, shortly after it was published, the British Comet jet airliners began to crash. The cause was metal fatigue. Shute was an experienced aeronautical engineer who had built up his own company before the war. He knew his subject. The book is excellent. This should be on every list of novels for engineers.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aviation Story, Funny and Suspenseful. Nov. 23 2010
By Steven Daedalus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The humor and tension are grounded in both the characters and the situations in which they find themselves. It's a tidy novel with no great action scenes and no auctorial fireworks. Nevil Shute tells the tale simply and with a muted affection for everyone involved.

Dennis Scott works in the post-war British government and is chief of testing programs designed to insure aircraft safety. I may get these organizations mixed up because I'm not familiar with any of them. New to the job, Scott surveys the ongoing programs and finds Theodore Honey, an queer, middle-aged engineer, a "boffin" who has "gone all nuclear", experimenting with metal fatigue on the tailplane of an expensive new passenger airplane, the Reindeer. Curious about this froggy little troglodyte, Scott surveys the Reindeer tailplane now taking a pounding from hundreds of vibrators in Honey's isolated corner of the universe. The vibrators reproduce the stresses encountered in flight. Scott asks what Honey expects to find out. "I expect the tail to fall off after 1440 hours," replies Honey. Scott gapes because Honey doesn't seem to care about a couple of things that less eccentric people might find important. One is that, if Honey's theory is right, all Reindeers now in service will have to be grounded and it will cause an uproar in a strapped England in which goods are still rationed because of the debt incurred by the war. The second is that, if Honey is right, hundreds of passengers and crew will die as, one by one, the tails fall off the airplanes and they fall out of the sky.

What follows is a fascinating story of solving conundrums in aeronautical engineering, of family dynamics, of character traits, and of romance.

The story is plot driven and moves logically through time and space, never hard to follow, never difficult to read, but it's also sprinkled with ludic tidbits that are sometimes hilarious in an understated way. Honey is clearly an intelligent mathematician and engineer. The guy has a vision. But he's also otherwordly, a fool who doesn't own an ordinary mop or know anything about electric water heaters. The little home he shares with his twelve-year-old daughter is cluttered and filthy. He spends what spare time he has investigating certain obscure features of pyramids and the apocryphal peregrinations of Jesus Christ, including a kind of vacation the savior took at the site of King Arthur's Camelot. Scott backs Honey and his theory up, against the dismissive attacks of establishment figures.

Some reviewers have called the novel "dated," and I suppose it is. The most advanced aircraft are propeller driven. Women yearn for stability and homes. But so what? "Ulysses" is dated too. Nobody rides around in horse-drawn coaches anymore. And, man, is "The Iliad" dated or what?

Personally I found Shute's description of the typical nuclear family rather appealing. Take the stewardess, Marjorie Corder, that Theodore Honey finds himself thrown together with by circumstance. She's twenty-five, she's been a nurse and a stewardess. She's been all over the place and seen much of what she wants to see. And she falls for Honey and wants to spend her life taking care of him, his daughter, and their home. Granted that it all looks a bit retro today, but if women should feel free to pursue careers, why shouldn't they feel free to NOT pursue a career?

Nietzsche argued that two people living together had a "nest", while a person alone "had, at best, a cave." There's nothing I'd have enjoyed more than coming home after a hard day in the jungle and having a wife give me a massage, bring me my slippers, mix me a drink, light my pipe, and see to it that my wounds were properly treated and bandaged. Of course, there are advantages to living alone too. You can talk to yourself, you can curse rapturously at will, walk about in your underwear, prop your feet on the table, stagger around drinking out of the bottle, smoke poisonous cigars, watch ESPN day and night, burp without discretion, and so forth -- but I'd trade it all for an obedient, beautiful, wealthy, sinuous, undemanding, loving young wife.

Where was I? Oh, yes. I've read the novel twice -- the first time about thirty years ago, then again just recently. It was enjoyable both times. It doesn't carry much of a moral message. It's not "profound." It's an entertaining and involving tale. Try it, you'll like it.
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