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Summary

Alan Duncan returns to his family home in Australia after the war and several years of study in England. But his homecoming is marred by the mysterious suicide of his parents' quiet and reliable parlour-maid. A search through her belongings in search of clues leads to heart-breaking revelations about the woman's identity, the death of Alan's brother Bill, and, above all, the disappearance of his brother's fiancée, Janet.

Nevil Shute Norway (17 January 1899 – 12 January 1960) was a popular British-Australian novelist and a successful aeronautical engineer. He studied at Balliol College, Oxford, and published his first novel, Marazan, in 1926. During the Second World War he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve where he worked on developing secret weapons, but after the conflict he continued to write and settled in Australia where he lived until his death on 12 January 1960. His most celebrated novels include Pied Piper (1942), No Highway (1948), A Town Like Alice (1950) and On the Beach (1957).

©1955 Nevil Shute (P)2013 Audible Ltd

Critic reviews

“My favourite novel, by my favourite author, is a wonderful example of a master's craft. This understated Second World War love story still has a freshness and sincerity more than half a century after it was written. Tragically sad but also uplifting” (Gerald Seymour, Sunday Express)
“Magnificent” (Guardian)
“There is little that Mr. Shute does not know about choosing an appealing story and telling it in a gripping way” (The Times)

What listeners say about Requiem for a Wren

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A poignant love story told with great restraint

I was delighted to have the opportunity to reacquaint myself with one of the favourite books of my youth.
Nevil Shute was extremely popular in the 1940s and 50s. He wrote in a straightforward, highly readable style on subjects that he knew about. Thus it is not surprising that there are quite a few technical references in this book, especially to equipment used in the Normandy landings of 1944 (Shute, an officer in the RNVR, was actually present at D-Day) but these are easily comprehensible to the ordinary listener. The atmosphere and tension of those weeks before the invasion is very well caught.
Requiem for a Wren is a poignant love story narrated in a series of well-devised flashbacks and written with great restraint. Sex is never mentioned (possibly one reason why Shute is not widely read today). The book highlights the fact that many of the participants in World War 2 actually enjoyed it - and felt bewildered and rudderless when it was over - not because of any love of violence and brutality but because this was their youth and they were ordinary people projected into an extraordinary situation.
Damien Warren-Smith’s reading is adequate without being in any way outstanding. He presents the narrator’s Australian accent convincingly (at least to this Brit) but I was irritated by several mispronunciations, mistakes which I am sure an Australian who had lived in England throughout the war would not have made.

4 people found this helpful

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Requiem for a generation

This has to be the saddest love story I have ever read, as well as a poignant beautifully drawn portrait of a 'lost generation' - those young people whose coming of age coincided with the war years, many of whom came straight out of school into the services, and their struggle to build a life, post-war, that matched the sense of purpose, and of belonging to, and being a part of, something bigger than the individual... Nevil Shute's dry, matter of fact, quintessentially English narrative style perfectly captures the everyday tragedy of their situation, and the desperate loneliness of the heroine at the centre of this novel, so much so that I defy anyone not to feel haunted by the story for a long time after finishing.

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A unique tale.

This is indeed a unique tale.
It shows the harsh realities of war the far reaching effects. Even more so today these should not be forgotten or mimimized.
One grows fond of the characters and weeps as they weep.
Please read.

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Excellent story and narration

Nevil Shute classic so beautifully crafted story and narration could not be bettered.

Would highly recommend this download

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Outstanding Nevil Shute

A great story and so sad.
Thank goodness my generation never had to go to war. The peace was hard won, by those who paid the price.
Sometimes the ultimate price.
Loved it

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Excellent

Read this book when it first came out and several times since. Each time have found something new to enjoy and hearing it read so beautifully brings a whole new dimension to it.

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Master storyteller

I rarely listen to audible books I already possess in hard copy, but I have found myself drawn to Neville Shute books I've inherited from my parents. Wonderful, genuine stories, they take time to build, and then leave you thinking about them for a long time after. Requiem for a Wren is one of the best. Persevere through the first two chapters and you will be rewarded.

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Not one of Shute‘s best - a little long-winded

I love Shute and have listened to several. They’re all a little slow to start, while the characters are building their narrative, but this one just didn’t get going enough. There was such a lot of long descriptions about the war operations, with such detail, that the interesting parts about the characters were too infrequent.

I listened to it all and it had a decent conclusion, but the dull narration and over-described plot just didn’t cut it for me.

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A fascinating book

I loved this story especially as it was set in our area of the Coast at Lymington during the war. It kept one’s interest all the way through t

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EXCELLENT

Very enjoyable although rather sad at times. Very compelling and so well written. Narration very good.

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  • Sharon
  • 21-11-13

Bittersweet

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I like Nevil Shute's writing. I think A Town Like Alice is his best work so I would always recommend that title first. I do think he is very good at describing life in the British Armed Services during WWII. Those that enjoy military history and writing will like his books, but even I enjoyed them (and I have little knowledge of planes and guns).

Who was your favorite character and why?

I liked the main character. I really wanted to like the female lead character, but she frustrated me by her giving up in the end because it seemed so unlike her character (from the way she acted in the past).

Have you listened to any of Damien Warren-Smith’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the first title I have listened to that he has read.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, but I enjoyed it in long stretches.

Any additional comments?

I noticed this is offered under a different title on Audible. The other title is Breaking Wave. I guess the publisher was revamping older novels with newer titles? I prefer this title. But if you are a Shute fan and begin to purchase all the Shute Audible titles on offer, you may want to check the description of each book first to make sure you are not purchasing duplicate books. I noticed several other of his books are offered under two different titles.

6 people found this helpful

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  • John H
  • 09-06-16

Two Titles Same Book

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Bittersweet yet hopeful

What other book might you compare Requiem for a Wren to and why?

The Breaking Wave. It's the same book

Any additional comments?

Look before you leap. I don't know why Audible doesn't warn that two titles are the same novel only different performers.

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  • RueRue
  • 11-03-15

Great narration, slow story

Not much of a plot, lots of WWII detail, but an excellent narrator kept me listening. I loved "A Town Like Alice" by this author, this is not as good IMHO.

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  • John
  • 16-10-14

Pleasant but a little slow

A pleasant story but not great. I have listened to quite a few Shute novels and this is not at the top of the pack. The story lacks any real drama and plays out rather slowly.

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  • nancy gott
  • 14-02-15

1st time "Listener"

I have read many Nevil Shute books throughout the years. This is the first one I ever "listened" to. It was great fun. I could listen in the bath, in the sauna, while working on the computer, etc. The narration was great and used good variety for the different characters.

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  • ebridge
  • 03-01-20

One of my favorite authors.

I find Nevil Shute's books to be interesting and informative, introducing me to Australian culture and history.

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  • Sally
  • 27-09-19

nevil shute doesn't disappoint

his stories are always unique, takes his time to weave the story, thoughtful and meaningful story.

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  • Woodworker's Wife
  • 30-07-19

Lovely

Narrator was perfect. Story is excellent, a good reflection of the human condition. Well worth the"read."