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Summary

John Turner, a young man with a chequered past, has been told he has just one year to live. He decides to use his remaining time to search of three very different men he met briefly during the war: a snobbish British pilot, a young corporal accused of murder, and a black G.I. accused of attempted rape. Along the way, Turner learns about forgiveness, tolerance, and second chances, and overcomes his fear of death.

©1947 Nevil Shute (P)2012 Nevil Shute

Critic reviews

“Not only a brilliantly fluent storyteller but also an ironic commentator on the world scene.” (Harpers & Queen)
"As a novelist, Nevil Shute goes from strength to strength, experimenting, drawing out life as he sees it, and setting it before us in ordered pattern." (Punch)
"Shute is a storyteller of an uncommonly veracious stamp, whose performance is more remarkable that his quiet and refreshing modest airs might suggest." (Times Literary Supplement)

What listeners say about The Chequer Board

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A good old-fashioned yarn

I really like Nevil Shute stories.
They are simple, and moral, and have an old-fashioned innocence to them. But they are also extremely 'hooky', and never let you spend even a moment of the book without wondering what will happen next.
This is no exception. It ticks all the Shute boxes, and, if there were pages to turn, it'd be a right old page turner. I suppose the audiobook version is a 'car-park waiter'...
The narrator tell the tale well. Gently paced, and sympathetic to the characters.
A right good read!

9 people found this helpful

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A thoughful read.

This is a very charming book. It is very dated now, in 2019, but it tells of friendships of war and their aftermath . Those early days of colour prejudice in Britain are sensitively handled without being mawkish. Nevil Shute's characters always become real people to the reader and one cares about them.

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Moving Exploration of

The Chequer Board is the second of Shute's work I have read. The way he deals with death, and the knowing journey the dying take towards a higher understanding of their mortality is both moving and profound. See On the Beach. Ostensibly a tale of a man with a terminal illness, it is never self indulgent or morose but rather uplifting and somehow life affirming without any hint of cliche. It is a rediscovery of humanity perhaps, of peeling back the banality of everyday existence and revealing what is essential.

It deals very thoughtfully in issues of race too, stripping back prejudice and exposing the fundamental lack of differences between people of different ethnicity. It takes the reader through the superficial, where a black man is simply called nigger (you will hear the word a lot) but ultimately by travelling through this uncomfortable depiction of segregation and knee jerk abhorrence of the other, the reader comes to see the beauty in humanity and its inability to find inferiority when it is colour blind.

Turner is both part of the white world that thinks it is set apart and above others of colour, but also increasing aware that the notion of race is completely abstract and meaningless.

2 people found this helpful

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A Most Enjoyable Story

As ever, a story of people, their lives, loves and disappointments. NS always manages to keep your attention , even after all these years. A story of friendship, kindness and troubles to be overcome.

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Insight into 4 lives (main character included)

I enjoyed this book as a short insight into the lives of four people as told through reunions with the main character. I can appreciate how others readers might find the book impactful; however, I find that the author has written more intriguing fictions elsewhere. I found the main character difficult to like, and for this reason I was not as invested in his story (which I acknowledge is probably a failing on my part).

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  • 25-09-21

very good

One of my favourite Shute novels done justice by Mr Panting - good use of accents, especially American!

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Becoming a Nevil Shute fan all over again!

I first read a few Nevil Shute books in my teenage years and liked them … Now in my sixties I intend to read most if not all that Audible has to offer in Shute's books .. Of all the books that I read from Audible these books stay with me the longest and matter the most .Whereas most Detective novels etc are an escape in to different worlds Nevil Shute's people are the most real and credible . His characters are written with a charm and slightly dated good manners and after I finish a book I always think that it was time well spent and I have profited by the reading of it .

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Dated: but do listen to this!

I read this book when it was first published and loved it. It is now, of course, totally politically incorrect with constant reference to colour etc. But it is beautifully written and read and an excellent story. If you would find the political incorrectness too jarring you could look on it as an interesting social comment on the time it was written: that would be a shame though!

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A wonderful story, beautifully told.

This is a wonderful story which I had great difficulty in putting down. Beautifully told.

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  • Jacqueline Curbishley
  • 01-04-13

Dated? Not this one.

Would you listen to The Chequer Board again? Why?

I had read the book in print years ago, and was moved by it then. I found it even more moving in Audio. yes, I would listen to it again.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Chequer Board?

The moment when he tells his wife, normally a remote person, that he does not have long to live and the way she shows her compassion towards him. I love the restrained portrayal of the hero and his wife.

What does Paul Panting bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He reads it in a way that fully encompasses and is sympathetic to the period in which the book was set.

Any additional comments?

I had read only one other Nevile Shute book, ' Town Like Alice', before this one. Now I will definitely listen to others, as they lend themselves so well to Audiobooks.

10 people found this helpful

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  • N. Rogers
  • 15-04-15

Another Treasure By This Author!

It seems that every book I read by this author is better than the ones before. That's probably not true since I have thoroughly enjoyed all of them, including this gem. So far I have never been disappointed and plan to listen to all that are recorded as audiobooks. Perhaps, if I can ever find time to sit down and actually read a print book, I'll delve into even those that are not.

I am always sorry when I finish a Nevil Shute novel even though I compulsively listen as often and as long as I can which causes me to leave these wonderful characters sooner than I would like. And yet, each tale ends as it must and at the proper time. This one did as well.

What a treasured legacy this author has left, for me at least!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Bond James Bond
  • 25-05-15

a good story

The story kept me interested all the way. Much better than average. Will listen to more Shute

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  • Mike Kelly
  • 07-02-16

Another great story..

Love Nevil Shute! If you want to learn about England in the 30's & 40's, he's your guy.

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  • Harley Rosnow
  • 22-06-20

Charming and timeless

I love Nevil Shute. Although his stories were written years ago, they deal with life and questions that hold up today. Each time, fall in love with his characters and their journeys. They speak to me and I finish with a smile.

The Chequer Board is a favorite. It speaks in this time of Black Lives Matter.

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  • Dr. Edward J Thompson
  • 09-06-20

Good Story read by Paul Panting

A lovely story but a little too much time spend on old events whereas the critical mass of the theme was in the present time. But a sensitive story. Greatly enjoyed and wonderfully preformed by Paul Panting.

1 person found this helpful