Great opportunity to get a feel for the birth of Las Vegas and the horrors of bigotry. It's a book with many layers and as it unfolds your interest never wanes.
I loved the Jack of Diamonds. There were so many interesting people. Learning about Canada and the music at the beginning of the story was all new for me and I really enjoyed it! This was one of the best audio books I've listened to.
The reader was excellent. As for the book, I'm reluctant to be critical of a well-liked author who knew he dying of cancer, but I always felt that he didn't know where the story was going--so he just kept on going and going. First we have the "Jack learns to play the piano and escape blue collar Toronto story." Then we have the "Jack goes out west, becomes a poker player, and loses his virginity to a sweet hooker story before escaping from gangsters story." Then there is the "escaping from WWII by getting an early minor wound" story. Then the escaping gangsters in Las Vegas story. Then the escaping thugs in Africa story. Then the escaping his daughter's creditors in London story, which also results in saving Jack's talking parrot. One melodrama after the next. It all comes across like something written to be published in monthly installments in an old-fashioned magazine serial.
Yes and know. I enjoyed the first 1/2 of the book, in particular, depicting Jack's hardscrabble existence in depression-era Toronto and his depth as a musician. As both a Canadian and a musician, I truly enjoyed this part of Jack of Diamonds. The second half was not nearly that strong, stretching credibility - how likely is it that a mob member will tell an outsider the whole story?
I honestly could not finish the book, due in no small part to the depiction of mob life and the repetition of many other elements of his books - notably Jack from "Brother Fish". I would recommend Four Fires, Matthew Flinders' Cat, and Brother Fish before this one.
Humphry Bower is always always splendid. It is a testament to his gift as a narrator to drop the Australian accent for 26 hours.
Like action, adventures, war stories, militay happenings, historical readings-fiction, & mysteries. Unabridged only! Reader IMPORT!
This was my first listening of a Bryce Courtenay book. It was hard for me to NOT listen to it even in to the late night. As the third volumn was drawning to a close --- I hoped for a sequel. However a person in their eighties (my age is79) learns that "gowing old is NOT for sissies!" And one runs into health problems that only supporting a team of doctors can help a person with...! Mr Bryce is in his 80's....
Say something about yourself!
I will so miss Mr. Courtenay though he was not at his best for this one. One can only attribute this to a sort of swan song. It was a roll up of many of his characters and a blurry rehash of a lot of his previous plots and much better stories.
Jack of Diamonds had a challenging background, but not anywhere near as challenging as it should have been. He had so many benefactors, most people would have been happy with just one!
It isn't a wasted credit if you love Bryce Courtenay. He was a sick man and yet came up with a story that is readable. You know after a while that nothing really bad is going to happen to this guy. You know he will land on his feet – sorry, possibly a spoiler allert. And don't we all want that? Especially when one knows that one is not going to 'land on his feet?'
If you want to read a "in his prime" Bryce Courtenay book read Power of One, Tandia, especially The Potato Factory trilogy - awesome books! Brother Fish, The Persimmon Tree, Four Fires... I will always honor and admire this man's contribution to books, fiction, and my life. RIP Bryce!
If you only want what his previous offerings gave – don’t bother. If you Love Bryce, it is okay. I probably won’t listen to this one again – sigh… It isn't even Humphrey Bower's best effort.
I love to listen or read books...I have always got one or two books on the go at any one time. I am happily married, and live a quiet life.
I started this book, loving that it had many hours of listening time and at first I didn't really care for the performance. As the story progressed, and the sound of his voice continued, I fell in love with his way of talking. Just when I thought I wasn't going to be impressed, the story grabbed me and it was taking me down different avenues of Jack's life. To come from such a hard background and through hard work to become what he had dreamed, a jazz pianist, to have his dreams slashed and his love lost, he moves on and makes dramatic changes always being true to himself. I was also impressed at how his life experiences went on to enhance his future endeavours.
As the book ended, I realized this is the author who wrote the "Power Of One", and so loved this book, I became an instant fan of this author. I have never been good at remembering names of authors, so it did not click who this author was, but now I have all the books he has wrote on my wish list.
My hat is off to Bryce Courtney who has such a great knack for story telling, and how he portrays his characters, it was like walking beside the main character in his trials and blunders, feeling his pain, rejoicing in his success, and carrying his self respect & beliefs with him throughout his life. I can hardly wait to read the next of his books on my list.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
I loved this book! It took me to times and places I could never go in my own life. For critics who think Courtenay was not at his best for this story, well, no, he wasn't! In fact I suspect we're (bloody) lucky to have this book. Actually we're getting the story for a second novel with a very happy ending. It looks to me like Bryce finished the book in June and died in November, so God bless him for this last great push!
Yes, Humphrey Bower doesn't do q-u-i-t-e so well as a Canadian, but hang in there and you'll get to hear him do many more voices including a personable parrot. He had to narrate this book in order to do the parrot at the end, OK? I could put this another way: I like him better as an Australian; I think a lot of actors could have done the Canadian main character, but Bower had to do this book!
The book is a love song for black people, for racial equality, and for fairness to women. Every time I felt bad about some fresh violence, I reminded myself that this is historical fiction. As a tiny child in the 1940's, I studied the sometimes gruesome pictures in Life magazine; I had some long thoughts about how it felt to die. The violence in the book is based on history and how things really are at many times and places. Anybody who bails before finishing is going to miss a lot of delicious fun and closing of circles. Yes, there's sex but it's sweet and the partners have been introduced. Indeed, some of the same scenes recur here from earlier books -- mining, poverty, prostitution, music, the cultivated older woman who helps the boy. The Las Vegas history seems to be new. I loved how Bryce used the names of his doctors for characters toward the end of the book. I wondered while listening if this story was based on any real people. Have not found out yet.
Wonderful story! Thank you, Bryce!
He is the master of seemingly all dialects, Australian, South African, German, Irish, Chicago, New York, Canadian, the list goes on.
Watching Jack grow from childhood to senior citizen and all of his adventures was spellbinding. I am truly sorry we are at the end of Courtenay's books. What a gifted storyteller.
Another Bryce Courtenay brilliant book and as always narrated by Humphrer Bower .. what an exciting book. A great read.