A powerful book, somewhat spoilt by extreme characterizations drawn by Bryce Courtenay, otherwise a truly gifted story-teller. The book is set in that shameful period when South Africa moved into institutionalized Apartheid, and its strong anti-racism message is inspirational. However, the author’s near-universal portrayal of Afrikaners as moronic, sadistic and fanatic Nazis blemishes the book. The truth was bad enough without this extreme exaggeration. The large number of Afrikaners killed fighting against Hitler’s Germany and the leading roles played by Afrikaners such as Smuts and Reitz to counter the South African right-wing indicate complexities Courtenay chooses to ignore. Courtenay also tends to patronize black South Africans, who, according to his story, relied on the mysticism of belief in a little white boy, Peekay, rather than in their own rising leaders, this in a country that spawned many great leaders, including Gandhi, Luthuli and Mandela! Given that the author describes this tale as largely autobiographical, this indicates a spectacular ego! A more mundane note: his portrayal of Afrikaners as invariably being unable to understand black languages (in contrast to Peekay) is peculiar – in my experience, in rural areas (where Courtenay and Peekay grew up) young English and Afrikaans kids all had a reasonable grasp of the local black languages, and some were very fluent. Many (like Peekay) were raised by black nannies, and many (unlike Peekay) played with young black kids, until they went to all-white schools. Anyway, enough of that rant! The narrator, Australian Humphrey Bower is excellent in capturing the pathos of the story - however, his bizarre rendition of South African accents jars. Some illustrations: Murray (for Marie) biscuits, Teeekee (for tiekie), and daaaga (for dagga). A great pity a talented SA narrator was not used – perhaps Paul Slabolepzy or the late Bill Flynn. Having said that, a great listen!
OK, i didn't know that until later, but now i don't feel i have to see it. I'm sure the book was better. It is a nice read and the narrator did a fantastic - and i mean a fantastic job.
Great story, amazing character development, very believable in a "story book" way and I honestly just loved the witting style of the author.
My one dig is that it could have been just a bit shorter and we wouldn't have missed anything - but still, i's a great book.
Before this listen, I knew next to nothing about South Africa and loathed boxing as cruel, stupid, and graceless. Now I know more about SA and can appreciate the intricacies of pugilism, although I still have no interest in watching a match. The narration, plot, characters are "turn the page" excellent, and my routines went by with lightening speed as well as being able to look forward to exercise, chores, and other mindless activities so I could find out "what happens next". I've purchased the book for my grandsons who could use some insight into man's inhumanity to man all over the world...as well as some awareness of cultures outside of their own suburban utopia.
Great story, narration excellent and a compelling mixture of the goodness versis brutality
Humphry Bower is a wonderful actor.; he brings the characters to life and I'M thrilled that Bryce Courtenay and Humphry Bower have formed a calloraboration. He manages to transport you to a time and place with his wonderful grasp of all accents.
PK & Doc for their pure and strong characters
I love all of Bryce Courtenay's books and especialley narrated by Humphrey Bower
Draws you in and keeps you interested.Excellent Story and Excellent read. Accents good and easy to understand.
I was hopeful when I started this - really enjoyed the early parts and the child's growing up as a white child in a black land and his interactions with the indigenous people. He seemed to incorporate the local culture into his life without even knowing it. The story lost me when he started to mature and became enamored with boxing, and I understood that he would go on to become some sort of a war hero. The story lost me at that point and I stopped listening. However, I did find the narrator to be exceptional.
The main character Peekay's mix of childhood trauma and unintentional humor make him heartwarming and beautiful. His adventures with Grandpa Choock (which made me laugh out loud), Hoppie, Doc, and finally Hymie and Gideon show that family isn't always made by the blood running through us but with the head and the heart. I fell in love with the beauty of South Africa, the tadpole angel, and began to understand a little of life during the Aparthide. A beautiful work, I can't wait to recommend to someone! (BTW my mother swore it would be a religious text because of the title, and it isn't).
The unity and colorless love of the African people.
The voice gives Peekay shape
Not exactly, (it is quite long) but I couldn't wait to find time to go back to it.
This is one of the best books I have read or listened to, and one of the absolute best narrators. I will look for more by Bryce Courtenay. I will also look for more by this narrator, Humphrey Bower, who did one of the best narrations I've ever experienced.
I loved the hearing the African names and words pronounced properly. The narrator gave an astounding performance and never took me "out of the story" but rather brought each character to life.
Wow, what a story! This is a great story. Its about compassion for our fellow man, its about putting others first, not ourself. Its about staying the course. But mostly it about a friendship that spans trials from the POW camp to being on a boat in the midst of a hurricane and the love and caring that is bore out of all that these people go through together. Great book!
When both Jacko and Jimmy were given medals for there wartime escapades.And how those escapades forged a friendship that few have a chance to experience.
As all ways top shelf
Most memorable chracter........has to be a 3 way tie between, Jacko, Jimmy and Nickole. All three at some point play a most unforgetable character. Sorry, 3 great leading protagonist.
Don't miss this.
The story, the recording, the power of historical fiction at its very best ... don't miss this one!