One of the best parts of running the Dabbler Book Club is when we receive reviews of the books we send out to our lucky winners each month. We were honoured to receive the following review of Nevil Shute’s recently republished Trustee from the Toolroom from Dabbler Barbara, who has only recently moved to Britain from her native Germany, so her terrific effort is to be doubly applauded!
Meet Mr Keith Stewart, an presumably average citizen with an unusual hobby made profession: he is a world-renowned writer for a specialist magazine – about miniature mechanics. He dedicates his time to develop new mini-machinery and kindly answers letters from strangers about problems they have building similar items. His sister is also fairly average. After having been a chorus girl, she married up the social ladder and shares or endures her naval husband’s passion for sailing.
So, when the sister decides to make a new beginning in America, they go by sailing boat and leave their daughter in the care of Keith and his wife. Unfortunately they are wrecked and die in the pacific. Couldn’t be further from home. And only Keith, the trustee, knows where to find the inheritance for their newly adopted daughter. With only a vague knowledge of where the pacific is situated, and clutching 100 Pounds and a home-made steel egg he embarks on a journey into the unknown.
Trustee from the Toolroom is a time machine that takes you straight to the fifties. From the opening lines onwards it feels a bit like a toy world. You’ll learn what engineers were up to in their spare-time (obviously building miniature mechanical motors), deduct how much a female shop assistant earned (not much) and wonder about currency export restrictions between the US and Britain and other such trivia.
Characterisation is not exactly a forte of the book. Nevil Shute luckily gets his types pretty good in just a few words, but often they stay charicatures. Better to not read to much into this fairy tale of fairly miraculous events, that smooth out Keith’s journey to the wreck and back home. He is a hobbit. A very likeable chap from whom you can learn a lot about welding, lathing and combustion engines. He is gentle and patient enough to explain it to you.
With thanks to our friends at Vintage Books for the copies of Nevil Shute’s Trustee from the Toolroom. You can purchase your own copy here. To be in with a chance of winning upcoming free books, sign up to the Dabbler Book Club , or join the fabled League of Dabblers…