Avid Audible "reader" of historical & contemporary fiction, detective and crime novels.
There aren't many novels 28 hours long that can hold my rapt attention throughout. This one did. It is an epic saga of that catapults the reader through deep and abiding love, horrendous evil, world war and the afterward of that war. Set in the Pacific, (various island nations) prior to and during World War II, the story is centered on the impact of the Japanese invasion of Java and other nation islands. At its core is the plight of the Dutch who had previously invaded and controlled Java and specifically, the life of Anna, a girl of mixed Javanese and Dutch heritage; and Nick,an Australian butterfly collector who was on an expedition when the invasion by the Japanese was fomented.
"Nicholas" narrates the story in an easy-to-listen-to voice with an amazing down under accent. The various character voices used are memorable and wonderful throughout. Nicholas tells his story and then relates Anna's story as well. I loved the way their stories unfolded and intertwined and also how their lives separated before finally coming back together.
This is a worthy listen if ever there was one. For those who like relatable characters and novels that retrace history, this is a must. Highly recommended.
I love most books and I gave this book as much time as I could. I found that this lacked excitment. Even moments that should have been exciting were just really over described. I have never reviewed a book before but I got this on my recomended list so I wanted to let others know that if you like Ken Follet, Dianna Gabledon or you read Shanteram and liked them, this book is not for you!
I read a lot of reviews before I take on a book by an unfamiliar author who is supposedly very popular somewhere else (like Australia) -- so I am surprised that none of the many reviews I read mentioned how larded this book is with juvenile, uninteresting sex (for the male lead), or perverted sexually-oriented abuse (for/by the female lead). Boring smut, descriptions of penises, and sexual stereotyping (Asians, Catholics, etc) completely undermine a potentially interesting WWII novel that starts out intriguingly. Although to be honest, a lot of the novel's plot that is not sexual consists of unbelievable lucky breaks, discoveries of cash, and field promotions. Can't believe I have actually made it to within three hours of the end (only because it is gardening season and I have hours of listening time).
Wife, mother, nanna, part time actor, avid reader, world traveller, golfer, bridge player, lover of life.
This book is a must read. Bryce Courtney does the Australian Servicemen and Women proud in this epic novel of what it means to be young, Aussie and flung into a war only to have to cope with the consequences of the decisions made during that war. I am so proud to be able to say this book was written and researched thoroughly because there isn't one thing I could fault. Bryce Courtney is no longer with us but I will be sure to read the prequel to this story next. Love it!
Each part of this engrossing tale is as gripping and enjoyable as the last. So Australian. Some of the Aussie sayings are brought to life by Humphrey Bower and said exactly as my parents used to all the time. I particularly liked the one "After the matinee, you still have to go home and mow the lawn." The writing is wonderful and many memories of how my mother and father survived during the war came to life in this book as both of them served as officers in the Australian Army.
His accents are spot on. I like all of his characters especially the Japanese and Javanese characters. The women too. Anna, Marg etc. all delivered with a slightly gentler tone. He is my favourite reader thus far.
Anna because she reminds me a little of myself. I love her bravery in the most frightening of situations.
I generally don't like Bryce Courtney's writing but this one has whet my appetite for more.
The saga takes you in and doesn't let go. Very well written and narrated. I will buy more from this author and narrator.
NV, not NY
Most subjects Courtenay writes about I find interesting if not fascinating, however the large middle section of this book about the woman's training to please her captor held almost no interest for me at all. But that's just me, you may love this part of the book. This was my least favorite Courtenay book to date.
Bryce Courtney's novels are favorites because his characters are never perfect, but perfectly flawed. I could listen to Humphrey Bower narrate the ingredients on a cereal box. He has just the right inflection humor, panic, masked emotion. He disappears into each character to the extent that I am usually surprised that there is only one narrator, by the end. Together, they weave wonderful audio experiences! Will listen to more of their collaborations.
Unfortunately, I felt this story was too long and drawn out. It just got boring after a while, even though it could have been much more exciting or suspenseful . . . or something. It’s a good story/plot but definitely not my Bryce Courtenay favorite.
I was disappointed with the quick ending which should have been the best part of the story if Courtenay had taken the time to write it! He leaves the ending implied, but what reader wants to interpret an ending you’ve been aiming towards after 28 hours? The ending was very unsatisfying and too abrupt. The focus of the entire book suddenly has no significance in the ending?
It is not a bad book though, and the narrator Humphrey Bower is fantastic, so it may be worth reading to many. Fans of Courtenay may love it. I did enjoy Courtenay’s “The Power of One” and “Brother Fish”.
Bryce Courtenay is a gifted storyteller and Humphrey Bower is one of the best narrators on Audible, so it's hardly surprising that this is one of those books you just can't put down until it's finished. It's also historically very interesting, providing a wealth of information about the situation and events of the Pacific War that I wasn't yet aware of, and just for that it is definitely worth reading.
Even so, it does also have some annoying weaknesses. The main one is that the main character, who is also the first-person narrator of the story, simply isn't credible. I don't know if Courtenay himself ever saw active service in war, and if he did I apologize in advance. However, it doesn't seem even remotely believable that a man could go through the horrific wartime experiences described and still remain basically the same insouciant, happy-go-lucky young man he was at the beginning of the story. Even internally, they hardly seem to touch him. It doesn't ring true, and that lessens the impact of the story as a whole.
The resulting effect is of an author retelling a story that he has heard but was not involved in himself. It is as if he is seeing his characters from the outside, and knows nothing of how they really felt about what they experienced. It is still an excellent story, but if that missing depth had been there it would have been a much, much better novel.
I found it likeable, but I am confused as to what people who are giving it five stars have been reading/listening to lately. I finished the book about a week ago and I had to think really hard about how it ended before I could write a review about a book I found so mediocre I couldn't care less about the fact there is a sequel, and even forgot that the ending left the story open for one... and it certainly doesn't demand one. I love a long involved drama, but this was long on words and short on drama.. Its one of those that's good enough not to turn it off and waste a credit, but I don't really care what happens to any of the characters.