In the Wet by Nevil Shute

In the Wet by Nevil Shute
reviewed by Deb Houdek Rule

Nevil Shute has the most emotionally compelling writing styles I’ve ever encountered. “In the Wet” is a odd and lovely example of this. Without ever being maudlin, in a quiet, understated way Shute weaves a beautiful combination of feeling and character.

“In the Wet” takes place in the Australian Outback. One can feel the heat, the dust, then the rain and the mud, as well as vividly seeing and being part of the scenery. The story is that of a Church of England parson well past his prime running a church in a very remote and widespread area. He’s a practical man, acknowledging that “wrong isn’t always wrong” in the Outback. He encounters a dying man who takes him on a trip through reincarnation, telling the tale of the life the man will live his next time around.

As science fiction the book is severely outdated, yet–I’ve found this works well with the bomb classics like Shute’s “On the Beach”–if you read it more as alternate history rather than a look to the future (the ‘future’ is the 1970s in this case) you’ll be able to enjoy the wonderful writing, well-rounded characters, and the solidly crafted plot.