Nicholas Duncan is a semi-retired shipping magnate who resides in idyllic Beautiful Bay in Indonesia, where he is known as the old patriarch of the islands. He is grieving the loss of his beautiful Eurasian wife, Anna, and is suffering for the first time from disturbing flashbacks to WWII, the scene of their first meeting and early love. His other wartime lover is the striking Marg Hamilton, a powerful and influential political player in Australia who has remained close to Nick. Marg suspects Nick is suffering the onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and organises for a specialist to meet with him in Sydney. But when they meet, Tony Freedman stirs long-buried emotions in Nick and the two men don't hit it off.
Nick leaves in an explosion of anger and finds himself in hospital after being hit by a car. Tony visits and encourages Nick to write as a form of therapy - to write about Anna. So he sets about writing about the woman who has inspired him since his late teens, and in doing so draws us into the compelling tale of the life he has lived post war-hero days building a shipping empire, navigating international corruption, supporting his wife's third-world education crusade and loving the women who inspire him. Set in the exotic locale of the spice islands during the excitement of post-war prosperity and possibility, and driven by strong, colourful characters, this book is truly epic in scope. Is it possible for a man to love two women?
©2008 Bryce Courtenay; (P)2008 Bolinda Publishing
This is my seventh Courtenay book, and I am starting to pick up on a trend. Unfortunately too late as I struggled to finish this one. I have now gone through Courtenay's book series and have found the first book in each series by far the best. An easy five star. The last book of his series, which this one is, are painfully slow, little action, and a way for Courtenay to get all of the historical facts, he had not used to that point, into the series. I almost can't remember how much I liked the Persimmon Tree. The story plays second fiddle to the need to douse you with historical info with a dull development of the characters. Taking a break from Courtenay after this one. I will stick to his single book efforts and stay away from any future series of books. Bower as usual is great and was the only way I could have finished this book.
For me this is a type of book that always sits in your mind. Incredible story, I fell in love with the main characters in the book 1 and it was interesting to follow their story in the sequel. Can't stop. The narration is excellent! Highly recommend.
I was so impressed with Humphrey Bower's naration. His ability to portray many nationalities with accurate accents really added to my enjoyment of this book. This story of Bryce Courtenay's is so entertaining, I really appreciate the research that assists the author weaving interesting historical,
geographical, and sociological facts into a great story.
A disclaimer: I've only "read" the first hour but I was so distracted and annoyed that I needed to post. The plot, the characters, the voices, all seemed way too much like Brother Fish. It doesn't help that the first several chapters give the plot or back story in broad brush strokes so any differentiation is lost in the generalities but, to summarize: A military veteran whose true love was victimized by bad guys of an Asian persuasion, he is very wealthy from a shipping company and has a best friend who is an African American who he eventually goes into business with. I had to look up the plot of Brother Fish to make sure that the main characters name was Jacko Mackenzie and not Nick Duncan and that this wasn't some weird sequel to BF.
It certainly doesn't help that when Joe opens his mouth for the first time, Bower uses the same voice and grammar for Joe that he did for Jimmy Oldcorn.
Here's hoping the remaining 21 hours has something, anything, of an original nature to it. I've liked all of Courtenay's books before but not enough to read the same plot twice over, just with a different cast of characters.
Native Californian. Knit awesome socks and mittens while listening.
This book gets 5 stars because it is Courtenay. That said, I am disappointed and confused. I was not ready for Australian history, much less Indonesia or the Japanese mafia or the birth of the Australian Green party. Gosh, this book has something for everyone! I have trouble believing that a heroin addict can stay beautiful for years on end. Neither woman is all that devoted to the man because neither married him or even lived with him fulltime. Maybe I'm old-fashioned for wanting legal marriage with full penetration and maybe even babies -- and the other stuff just for fun once in a while. And I certainly don't consider fame and fortune and designer clothes a fair substitute for not achieving some kind of normal family life. Politically I sided with Marg, the animals and old growth. As for Anna, I expected healing for her! Sure she was sitting on a shitload of bad stuff, but many people manage to move on. I enjoyed the unabridged audio version of Kiana Davenport's masterpiece Song of the Exile about comfort women of the Japanese and loved it. It is about enduring and surviving; that book helped me heal my own difficulties at the time. So my attention was indeed held by some of the insights about the Japanese. I appreciate the research. And I loved some of the creative philanthropy in the book, i.e., managing a new life for the little artist who was officially dead. However, much of the book sounded more like BBC radio news than an exciting novel. Perhaps Bryce rushed to finish this book. Having Saffron do great things in the last few minutes is not my idea of a happy ending. Nick should have bailed from both of those relationships and gotten himself a proper wife. I still love this author.
There is a certain 'smugness' about the characters in this book and I found it irritating. I listened to the first book 'Persimmon Tree' and was quite interested to find out the rest of the story. What I ended up hearing was a lot of repetition from the first book and some seriously implausible plot twists. Really these 2 books should have been condensed into one, and they would then have been a good listen. They are both overwritten and badly edited.
I like Courtenay's research and background, but in the end I was really bored with the characters and they are simply too 'good' and too 'clever' to be plausible. I loved 'Matthew Flinders' Cat' and really enjoyed Bower's narration, and on that basis and the reviews, bought these, but I wouldn't recommend either of these books.
Terribly disappointing. I'd hoped for more stories, vignettes, but the L O N G and very boring sex scene with Marg was a waste of time. Trouble is, I doubt I'll try another Bryce Courtenay title. I should have left well enough alone and stopped with The Persimmon Tree, which was excellent.
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