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A Town Like Alice


image source: wikipedia

Student’s Name:                                                                                           



A. Novel Title: A Town Like Alice


B. Categories: novel


C. I read this book for about             5          days


D. Did you use a dictionary? no


E. Self-rating of text comprehension. My understanding of the book was …(Check one )


1 Very poor

2 Poor

3 Acceptable

4 Good√

5 Excellent


F. In my opinion, the book is


1 Very easy

2 Easy

3 Not difficult√

4 Very difficult

5 Extremely difficult


G. How do you like reading this text? I like it


H. Would you recommend your teacher to give this book to other students in the future? yes


 I. The following is the synopsis of the book

image source: wikipedia
The story falls broadly into three parts.

In Post-World War II London, Jean Paget, a secretary in a shoe factory, is informed by solicitor Noel Strachan that she has a vast inheritance from an uncle she never knew. But the solicitor is now her trustee and she only has the use of the income until she inherits absolutely several years in the future. In the firm's interest, but increasingly for his own personal interest, Strachan acts as her guide and advisor. Jean decides that her priority is to build a well in a Malayan village.

The second part of the story flashes back to Jean's experiences during the war, when she was working in Malaya at the time the Japanese invaded and was taken prisoner together with a group of women and children.

As she speaks Malay fluently, Jean takes a leading role in the group of prisoners. The Japanese refuse all responsibility for the group and march them from one village to another. Many of them, unused to physical labour, die. Jean meets a young Australian soldier, Sergeant Joe Harman, also a prisoner, who is driving a truck for the Japanese and they strike up a friendship. He steals food and medicines to help them. Jean is carrying a toddler, whose mother has died, and this leads Harman to believe that she is married; to avoid complications, Jean does not correct this assumption.

The thefts are investigated and Harman takes the blame to save Jean and the rest of the group. He is crucified, beaten and left to die by the Japanese soldiers. The women are marched away, believing that he is dead.

When their sole Japanese guard dies, the women become part of a Malayan village community. They live and work there for three years, until the war ends and they are repatriated.

Now a wealthy woman (at least on paper), Jean decides she wants to build a well for the village so that the women will not have to walk so far to collect water: "A gift by women, for women".

Strachan arranges for her to travel to Malaya, where she goes back to the village and persuades the headman to allow her to build the well. While it is being built, she discovers that by a strange chance, Joe Harman survived his punishment and returned to Australia. She decides to travel on to Australia to find him. On her travels, she visits the town of Alice Springs, where Joe lived before the war, and is much impressed with the quality of life there. She then travels to the (fictional) primitive town of Willstown in the Queensland outback, where Joe has become manager of a cattle station. She soon discovers that the quality of life in 'Alice' is an anomaly, and life for a woman in the outback is elsewhere very rugged. Willstown is described as 'a fair cow'.

Meanwhile, Joe has learnt that Jean survived the war and that she was never married. He has travelled to London to find her, using money won in a lottery. It is some time before they are reunited in Australia and the attraction between them is immediately rekindled.

While staying in Willstown awaiting Joe's return, Jean learns that most young girls have to leave the town to find work in the bigger cities. Having worked with a firm in England that produced crocodile leather luxury goods, she gets the idea of founding a local workshop to make shoes from the skins of crocodiles hunted in the outback. With the help of Joe and of Noel Strachan, who procures money from Jean's inheritance, she starts the workshop, followed by a string of other businesses; an icecream parlour, a public swimming pool and shops.

The third part of the book shows how Jean's entrepreneurship gives a decisive economic impact to develop Willstown into "a town like Alice"; also Jean's help in rescuing an injured stockman, which breaks down many local barriers.

The story closes a few years later, with an aged Noel Strachan visiting Willstown to see what has been done with the money he has given Jean to invest. He reveals that the money which Jean inherited was originally made in an Australian gold rush, and he is satisfied to see the money returning to site of its making.

Jean and Joe name their second son Noel, and ask Strachan to be his godfather. They invite Noel to make his home with them in Australia, but he declines the invitation and returns to England.


J. The following are the characters in the book (write the name of the characters and a brief description)

  • Jean Paget - a young Englishwoman who is a prisoner of war in Malaya and later finds love and settles in the Australian outback.
  • Joe Harman - an Australian cattleman who is a prisoner of war in Malaya; he survives crucifixion and gets back to Australia.
  • Noel Strachan - the narrator; he is Jean Paget's solicitor and trustee.



Student’s Name:                                                                                            Date:


A. Text title:


B. Categories:


C. I read this text for about              minutes/hours


D. Did you use a dictionary?


E. Self-rating of text comprehension. My understanding of the text was …(Check one )


1 Very poor

2 Poor

3 Acceptable

4 Good

5 Excellent


F. In my opinion, the text is


1 Very easy

2 Easy

3 Not difficult

4 Very difficult

5 Extremely difficult


G. How do you like reading this text?


H. Would you recommend your teacher to give this text to another student in the future?



I. I think I learned the following new words from the text I just read (write as many as you want)



The following is the summary of the text


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