Business Physicist and Astronomer
This could have been far more interesting if T&H had had a real ending. Then this book could have had a bit more freedom. It's like two books that don't fit well together being forced to share a jacket. Old Days/New Days but poor transition.
We're forced to find out the ending of T&H---and that is VERY contrived. The characters act very, well, out of character. I don't want to give anything away but I will say that Hawk doesn't seem too distraught over the loss of Maggie Pie, Mary seems more devious than before but not to worry because we're only dragged around in circles for 10 hours of free form just to get some characters on the stage---and then, out of the whole 19 hours, we get around 2 hours of the real story which feels compressed to meet a deadline.
The ending is very weak. Dramatic, but silly weak.
I hate to say it because I am a huge fan---Power of One, Tandia---5 stars. Brother Fish---4 Stars.
Potato Factory? 4, T&H? 3.5 SS? 2 In other words, it's a downhill ride. Too much of the same stuff.
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".
Say something about Yusef. Uh...he was a great horn player?
and the Australian trilogy fit the bill. As for this volume, t Mr. Courtenay doesn't go over the edge historically and made sure to include the sodden trenches of France along with the horrors of Gallipoli. Now that I have Humphrey Bower's voice in me head much of the time, I must tell you that there is no better narrator; some who compare, but none better.
Four stars because I'm getting tired of being guilty of grade inflation and though I liked Solomon's Song very much, The Power of One and The Potato Factory are ~1 star better.
By the way, I am going to try to get the following: Bryce Courtenay helped with the publication of "An Anzac's Story" by Roy Kyle. Kyle was at Gallipoli (and France later) as an ordinary soldier and began this memoir at 89.
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 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.
Native Californian. Knit awesome socks and mittens while listening.
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.
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.
Solomon's Song, the third and final installment in the Australian Trilogy, tore my heart and had me in tears on a number of occasions.
The novel spans time from the late 19th century through to World War I.
Hawk is the unsung hero and the glue which holds the story and the entire family together. The biggest tragedy is that Hawk remains alone following the death of his beloved Maggie. Hawk becomes a surrogate father to Tommo's daughter, and helps raise her with Mary. Unfortunately, if Hawk has a fault, it's that he feels too much and is blinded by emotion.
Some of his decisions are questionable, and result in more difficulty. A case in point is his decision about how to deal with the other branch of Ikey Solomon's family as a way of atoning for having stolen the contents of Ikey and Hannah's safe without having passed any of it on to Hannah and David.
This book contains more description of the other half of the Solomon family. The entire branch of the family is tainted. Hannah was odious, and none of her offspring are any better. David Solomon is thoroughly nasty and unlikeable, and it's unfortunate that he didn't come to a nastier death about 40 years earlier. His son Abraham is less morally repugnant, but he is weak-willed and spineless and ultimately agrees with the decisions made by his irascible and nasty father. Abraham's son Joshua is merely a pawn of David's and he is also morally weak and repulsive. I wanted to slap him. In fact, I still do.
There is finally some interweaving of the two branches of the family and their fortunes. The Tommo / Hawk / Mary branch of the family is rounded out by Tommo's half-Maori daughter, Hinetitama, and her family.
Hinetitama unfortunately suffers from the same demons as Tommo, and all hope for her is lost when Mary stupidly arranges for Slabbert Tikkelman, Hinetitama's Dutch lover, abuser and enabler, to come to Hobart to marry HInetitama and work at the Potato Factory. Slabbert Tikkelman has no redeeming features, and it's unfortunate that he wasn't killed off earlier in the book. The ultimate downfall and degradation of Hinetitama is terribly sad and appalling. Bower's narration of Hinetitama in the hospice in her 50s when she is reunited with Hawk is superb. It's a complete tear-jerker. What a terrible waste of a life.
Hinetitama's children, Ben and Victoria, grow up under Hawk's care and are poised to take over the family business, but Ben is called away to war.
Many reviewers have criticized Solomon's Song as a piece of anti-war propaganda, but that's not a fair criticism. The horrors of trench war are brought to life with Courtenay's usual brilliant research and writing. But the focus is on more than just Gallipoli. The tedium and terror of training and travel are set out, as well as the futility of the landing at Gallipoli. Ben becomes a great leader on the front lines, and is wounded. He convalesces and recovers in London, becomes betrothed to his shipboard nurse, and then heads out to fight in the front lines of France. Meanwhile, the evil David has pulled strings so that Joshua is coccooned and protected from any hard duty. Joshua eventually feels shamed by the fact that he is sitting comfortably working in an administrative position, and gets himself sent out to fight on active duty in France.
Not surprisingly, the fates of Ben and Joshua are intertwined. As with Hawk, as soon as there is hope and light and laughter for Ben, it is snatched away by cruel fate. Joshua survives but is left with the curse of madness brought on by the war.Yes, the book ends suddenly, but not surprisingly.
There is just so much in this series to love. It's brilliant. It's also brilliantly narrated.
I will go back and listen from the very beginning, in order to catch all the references which I may have glossed over on first listen.
Solomon's Song is ultimately unsatisfying in that I wanted the series to continue, but all good things must come to an end.