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  • The Chequer Board

  • By: Nevil Shute
  • Narrated by: Paul Panting
  • Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (116 ratings)

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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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  • Overall
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    4 out of 5 stars

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!

10 people found this helpful

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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.

4 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.

3 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.

1 person found this helpful

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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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Not his best work

The Chequer Board kept.me hooked, but by the end I felt it was a bit of a damp squib. Seemed a bit unbalanced too, in the way the fate of the fourth serviceman was hastily slipped in with no direct input from him. We never really got to meet him.
We were, I think to admire Mr Turner's calmness and acceptance in the face of death, and perhaps to applaud his enlightened attitude towards people of colour (if that phrase is permissable now; times are changing so much that I won't be surprised if the book is withdrawn quietly in the coming years, yet it is a valid exploration of views held at the time, and the effects of such beliefs.
The change in the Turners' relationship as he neared the end was welcome - and yet, I am at a loss to understand why the Buddhist pronounced him a good man.
Anyway, worth a listen!

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Another excellent story from Nevil Shute

Nevil Shute never disappoints. This is a very well thought through, absorbing and fascinating story - really several stories in one - that kept my attention from beginning to end.

It was perhaps extra special as I’m down with Covid, and truly appreciated a book that was so easy to follow and so well read.

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facing death & overcoming

another very satisfying story from Nevil Shute. Enjoyed Panting's narration of it very much. Skin colour & cultural differences are not very important. lt's the kind of people we are trying to be & the way we overcome the hand life deals us, that matters. We are all imperfect, yet we can be good & kind & self forgetful.

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An tale of 4 men

Although I enjoyed this book it did seem very dated but its of its era. Attitudes to coloured people back in the 50s was different to now so the stories of two of the men needs to be viewed in that light.

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  • PG
  • 24-02-22

Best Narrator

I heard Paul Panting narrate on another audio book and really liked the sound of his voice. So much so,I looked for more of his work and found this. The story is very good but does use language of it's time that some people could find offensive. The book itself keeps you interested throughout, beautifully written.

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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.

12 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!

10 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

4 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mule
  • 08-01-22

Another amazing Shute story

Wow, what a great story reaching to the far corners of the globe. An adventure, a WW2 history, English life and really intriguing characters. Like other Shute stories, you read along, then a hook just grabs you and brings the whole reading into clarity and intense interest. The last sentence in this book gave me even greater admiration for Nevil Shute as an truly amazing storyteller!

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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

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  • Della Lee
  • 04-09-22

great for a long, or. short, drive

variety of stories tied together in the main story. easy to follow and kept my attention.

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  • Tim Soliday
  • 03-12-21

Ok

Well done, but not my favorite Nevil Shute, but still worth listening to. I plan to listen to all his books