©2004 Bryce Courtenay; (P)2004 Bolinda Publishing Pty. Ltd.
Audiobooks are BOOKS.! I hate reviews that complain about the narrator for not being an actor. Use your mind the same as when you read.
This book has been on sale several times, and I've considered it each time. I like long books, if they're good, and this book had lots of good reviews. But then I'd read the blurb and tell myself that I don't like war stories and I don't like stories that span the globe, or fishing stories, etc. Well finally I told myself, "Just do it!" And I did.
I found myself absorbed almost from the very first sentence. It's very hard to explain why. I guess that's why the blurb didn't convince me. I don't know how to describe the plot without mentioning all the things that I "don't like," but those things are not what the story is about.
One thing is, when describing horrific war scenes and incidents of bigotry and other unpleasantness, it would be very easy to make the reader feel oppressed or weighed down by the story, and I'm really not into that. It didn't happen here. It may be due, in part, to the fact that Jacko is telling the story from a distance of 50 years. He was able to be a bit more lighthearted about it. That is not to say that he trivialized those things, but was more focused on the good that came out of those experiences. I felt confident that, though I didn't know what would happen, the man telling the story did, and it was all gonna be okay. I shed some tears, but then things moved along. I also laughed a lot.
For some reason, when I think about how the author described the horrors of war, it made me think of the Italian, Benigni film "Life Is Beautiful." There's really no similarity whatsoever, but in the film, the father is trying to make his son think that they are on vacation and not in a concentration camp. Without detracting from the awfulness of the situation, we are made to smile and even laugh at the father's efforts to keep up the spirits of his son. Other prisoners pick up on what he is doing and get in on the act, and, at least temporarily, have their own spirits lifted. Without that, it would be very hard to keep watching, with the knowledge of what is really happening. I got a similar feeling during the P.O.W. camp portions of this book. I suppose it's because of the way Jimmy was able to motivate the apathetic prisoners into taking care of themselves and each other.
But don't get the idea that that's all the book is about. The war ends, of course, and there is a lot of story to tell about the intervening years, as well as the years before. And it's interesting. I hated to quit listening to do other things, like sleep.
This was all helped along, of course, by the brilliant narration of Humphrey Bower. He was able to do a wide range of accents and voices, and he did them very well and consistently, and was still easy to understand. I don't need accents and voices in order to enjoy a book, but when they're done well, it's a beautiful thing.
So, it took me a long time to finally listen to this book, but I'm very glad I did. I highly recommend this book to just about anyone.
So far I've read The Power of One, Tandia, and now Brother Fish. I loved them all and appreciate the fact that Courtenay writes long books. In the end they're never long enough. This story had the unexpected surprise of partially taking place in the area where I grew up, and when one of the characters is taken to the hospital where I was born, I burst out laughing. I know, I know, this has nothing to do with critiquing the book.
This book actually contains four major stories, all of them fastenating. I just downloaded The Potatoe Factory - the first in a trilogy, and I can't wait to be taken away by this masterful story teller yet again. Courtenay isn't perfect, but when you're in love, you tend to overlook the small stuff. When I look at how many books Courtenay has on Audible, it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
I am an avid recorded book listener. I work at at elementary school, have 2 high schoolers and have very little time to sit and read. This is a great book fix for the perpetual motion in our lives we live these days.
The characters, settings and emotions of this book are expertly built and told. I credit this audiobook as much to the author as the narrator. The characters are flawed, likable, human and so very real. The ability of Bower to cover such a vast array of characters and vernaculars is amazing. This book has jumped to one of my all time favorites ranking up there with Follett's Pillar of the Earth.
I loved this book! This is my first Bryce Courtenay book and I am looking forward to listening to others. The story is multifaceted and the characters are outstanding. The narration is excellent. I was not bored by the first part as many other reviewers were.
I have listened to 6 Bryce Courtenay novels and this is the best. "Tommo & Hawk" is close, but the story line and the unforgettable characters (esp. Brother Fish, Jimmy and the Countess) of this novel are outstanding. Just as importantly, the extremely talented Humphrey Bower's wide range of voices allows you to live every moment in the story.
To put icing on the cake, the conclusion doesn't require the reader to purchase anti-depressant pills.
Wow! I loved it! What a wonderful read! Thank you B. Courtenay, thank you H. Bower and thank you audible.com.
When the book began it was very into the Korean war - I'm not much of a fan of war stories but this book pulled me in and wrapped me in the character's lives - which are NOT all about the war. Not a gripping story but very satisfying. I'm glad I strayed from my usual genre. Very enjoyable. The narrator was great and suited the story well.
My very first BC book. Loved it, spend hours in car and on the road to find out what is going to happen next. The shortest 30 hours of listning and there is plenty more in the story to fill another 30 hours. It keeps you busy and thinking all the time. I cried, smiled, laughed, got very angry at the wrongs and enjoyed the truimphs.
In listening to novels, I require three things. 1. At least one Character I care about, 2. a story line that is believable for the characters and 3. I can get "lost" in the novel to the degree I feel a sense of loss when I finish it. That was certainly true here. In fact all 3 requirements were exceeded.
I must admit I am an enthusiastic Bryce Courtenay/Humphrey Bower fan. Courtenay tells individual stories and then weaves them into a fascinating tapestries. Sometimes, he pulls a thread from a tapestry and weaves a story around it. Humphrey Bower gives each character his/her own voice complete with appropriate accents which I recognize instantly.
I would label this "the best!"
My husband and I are listening to Brother Fish, downloaded because we have been Bryce Courtney fans for years! Listening to this book with a narrator like Humphrey Bower is one of the best experiences I have had as a long time Audible subscriber. Listening to this is an investment in history, in character development and, as usual for Courtney, a wonderful story.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
I would highly recommend Bryce Courtenay to any reader and especially readings by Humphrey Bower. I know Courtenay is good I just don't know how much greater Bower makes him. I enjoyed this book though not as much as Four Fires or The Power of One, the former being my favorite.
excellent as always Bryce Courtenay.
heartwarming, intriguing story of 3 unlikely friends. bittersweet but truly enjoyable.
"Lots more than a fishy story"
Epic saga around the Korean War and lasting friendships.
The bonds of friendship formed between people from such different backgrounds
Versatile, some accents more difficult to understand
Wonderful characterization, set against the harsh background of the little understood Korean War and then the long road to success won by taking huge risks and working hard towards a common goal
A lovely lighthearted story which evokes every emotion at some stage. The narration was superb, Humphrey Bower is a master at accents. A very enjoyable book!
THe story about the Korean War was fascinating and very informative. This is not an area that many know about and the book is worth listening to for this.
Humphrey Bower narrates the story very well and brings it to life. Very pleased I bought this.
"courtney produces another triumph"
My first experience of Bryce Courtenay was the moving Power of One which lifted my spirits at a time of personal anguish. His characters are so real and vibrant that his books can be an emotionally exhausting read as he subjects his beautiful flawed creations to the most awful trials and hardships. You just yearn for something to work out well for a change!
Here is another beautifully woven story, unfurling against the backdrop of the Korean war (which I knew little about). My heart stopped several times and fellow commuters looked strangely at me when I laughed aloud, sniffled back a tear or even gasped at the sudden dramas while sitting on the train.
If you are a fan of BC then you are going to love this book. If you are coming to him for the first time then please please listen to the Power of One - you will never forget it!
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