What a disappointing and non-resolved ending. The first two books were great. And this final book in the series was a dud... I should have stopped after 'Tommo & Hawk'.
Glad I listened to the whole series, but this was not my favorite Courtenay. Though I enjoyed parts, I didn't feel as invested in the new characters introduced and was left a little unsatisfied with the way some of the story lines were concluded.
I've read about six of Bryce's books. I would have been burnt out with most authors, but as soon as I've completed a book, I want it to go on --- tell me more -- don't let it end like this!
Still feel that this is not the end of the Solomon saga. There are still more fascinating characters to explore. Bryce always leaves a "hook".
An outstanding saga, an fantastic performance, a truly riveting listen. Profoundly moving at times.
Of the series of three books, The Potatoe Factory is a solid 4-star while the two sequels are average 3-star books. The first book reads much like a Dickens novel especially the first half plus set in London. It is a nice story with villains you love to hate but enjoy following. The second and third installments are more formulaic and too politically correct in some ways. They are worth listening to if you want to continue the story into the next generations. The narrator is fantastic in this series.
Somehow, no matter the medium, the third entry in any trilogy ends up being the weakest entry in the series--Return of the Jedi and Godfather III being the most glaring examples. So, while not near as bad as the final Godfather film, Solomon's Song is decidedly worse than its forerunners. That being said, it is still a 3 1/2 - 4 star book.
The story picks up after the events of Tommo & Hawk but the next 20 years are skimmed through very quickly. There are more problems between the two branches of Ikey's family, dealing with the brewing business, but the crux of the story deals with the First World War and its repercussion for both the Solomon family and Australia as a whole. We follow Mary's great-grandson and Tommo's grandson, Ben Teekleman, as he lands on the beaches of Galipoli and fights the Turks in the name of Great Britain.
Galipoli was to become the seminal event that gave the people of Australia their identity. After the Battle of Galipoli, they were steadfastly Australian, set apart from the English, much like their cousins in America after the War of Independence. It is a fitting end to Courtenay's "love song to Australia," portraying the moment at which a people whose identity has always been tied to the Mother Country become a seperate and unique nation of individuals.
I have read some reviews that say this book was unnecessary and that Courtenay should have finished the story with Tommo & Hawk. I wholeheartedly disagree. It is true that, compared with The Potato Factory and Tommo & Hawk, this book is decidedly inferior. However, it is still an important and fitting end to this historically fictional account of Australia--from penal colony to independent nation. And besides, while it may not live up to its predecessors, the book is still very good. If you have read the first two entries, it is well worth your time and money to finish the story of Ikey Solomon, Mary Abacus, and their descendants.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
I appreciate the whole Australian series because of the knowledge I've gotten about that country's early years. For that, Courtenay gets credit. But for me, this series was one book too long. This could have been a couple of chapters at the end of "Tommo and Hawk" and the series would have wrapped up nicely with two books.
I was so happy to get this third in the Soloman Saga. Most books I can usually put down and pick up at some time in the future. But Bryce Courtenay's novels are totally engaging so that you feel yourself in the story. Every scene is cinematic.
But the worst thing about every book by this author is that they do end and sometimes not the way you would like.
Say something about yourself!
Well, how was Courtenay supposed to end this story based on history? I needed to hear about Gallipoli as I didn't even know where it was! I have seen people just shake their heads in mention of it, so I needed this book with its carefully planned descriptions -- rats included! Courtenay is not simply taking a stand against war, like choosing milk over lemon. He expresses several times his gut level take on the results of old men planning a war that young men will die fighting. I have sat frustrated in staff meetings with lieutenant bars on my own shoulders across from a grizzled and giggling major, while waiting for an elderly Lieutenant Colonel way past his sell-by date to say, "Well we kicked that around enough -- " without making any decision whatsoever! I have seen how ego rules these matters. And my Vietnam veteran husband left a poem about old men playing dominos, the domino theory being a knee-jerk shorthand picture of strategy in Southeast Asia where so many of his friends died, including Jack Freppon, a blond orphan raised in NYC's Harlem by a black family. Jack was hit while waving to his friend across a hillside.
Courtenay set up the shocking end to this book by carefully describing the various family members and how their lives were moving along as WWI approached. He even describes Victoria's "toilette" on the day she meets with David and Abraham Solomon. This is a marvelous lesson in dressing for success practiced decades before its time: no makeup, hair in a bun, neutral colors, sensible shoes. And Hawk's first idea had been to have her tart herself up! She has already finished law school. We get it loud and clear that this is a powerful and determined young woman embodying oodles of potential, whether or not her brother comes forward. We see how David has taken charge of indoctrinating Joshua, how Abraham is a reasonable man sadly overshadowed by his father. Alas, while the good die young, the bad sometimes do die old! Courtenay shows us that Hawk feels his strength waning, even as his mind and will are clear. Hawk is measuring himself against the task at hand, doing his best to set precedents that will reward future generations.
Then Ben comes forward as a true hero, a man who can always think what to do next when others are literally losing their heads. We know he is handsome like his Dutch father, but I fell in love with his intensity, his coming up with creative solutions to impossible situations. Anyone forced to work for an inadequate supervisor can appreciate how Ben is able to work with a real weirdo young OIC and turn him into a cooperative team member and ultimately a friend and brother. Suddenly we see the results of constant practice of a skill -- both with the rifle and in Ben's case with the Maori fighting axe. We see the men ordered to help each other, friendships formed that will have to continue in Heaven.
Sarah Atkins is a real breath of fresh air near the end of the book. Always having to scrimp, extremely modest, she is amazed when Ben treats her to a new coat in London. Another coat for her friend. Ben puts his money where they can well enjoy it. Obviously, Sarah has no clue her fiance is wealthy! These descriptions are delicious. As in, "We'll always have Paris!" or in this case, London. In looking online for historical background, I opened a 99-year-old document showing lists of nurses with sweet names like Edith and Myrtle.
No, the book doesn't fizzle at the end! We can imagine the rest. Joshua will never lead the company! Victoria will have to work with Abraham. We can hope she marries and has fine children and a real helpmeet in her partner. I would love to know more of the sources Mr. Courtenay used for this story. But to take the story any further would be like kicking around ideas about Prince William and his Kate. It will be what it is. History happens. Better to stop here and get it loud and clear that wars are planned by old men and solve nothing.
Not likely. It is a long listen and the third of a series. I'm not likely to listen to books again, especially trilogies which require so much more time. There are a few slow parts in this 3rd novel - particularly through the beginning to middle. The last third is very engaging though. I would highly recommend this book - the whole triology as a first read though. The stories have a nice mix of fictional history, great character development, and tie together (throughout all three novels). Story flows nicely from beginning to end. The beginning/middle of this third novel was a little slow in comparison to the stories in the other two novels. And I wondered if Courtenay was ever going to develop the younger Solomons - Victoria, Ben, and Joshua. But the last third of the book makes up for some of the slow parts earlier in the novel. I usually listen to audiobooks during my commute. When I arrive at my destination, I find it hard to turn off the novel - and have even driven around for a while just to listen to it longer.
For new readers to Courtenay - his novels can be a bit tragic. If you prefer romantic novels or really happy-go-lucky stories then you will hate this novel.
All other Bryce Courtenay novels (Tommo and Hawk, Persimmon Tree, Power of One).
The war scenes reminded me a lot of Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. If you don't like hearing about tragedies or war scenes, then you will hate the last third of this novel. I found it very interesting - both in the details of the missions/battles and with the development of the characters as soldiers prior to and after battle.
Yes - excellent as always. Bower's narration is one of my favorite parts of the audiobooks. I couldn't imagine better narration. Great accents and enthusiasm (or lack thereof where appropriate).
Ben Tinkelman. Who wouldn't love the bloke after reading that novel? He is loved by his mates, thoughtful, and well humored. But I have no doubts Victoria or Hawk would make for a great dinner conversation.