It's the 1960s and the world of advertising is coming alive - and it's an exciting world to be part of. Simon Wong, a Chinese-Australian and a promising young advertising executive, is sent to Singapore to establish an office. He finds himself thrust into an environment that is at once strangely familiar and profoundly different, one where the rules that govern behaviour - both in business and in personal life - differ wildly from what he is used to. And where all is not what it appears to be.
Under the veneer of the commercial world lie some shocking truths - of people smuggling, drug trafficking, and murder. And Mercy B. Lord, the woman Simon falls for, is caught up in it. From wartime Asian comfort houses to CIA spy rings, Bryce Courtenay takes us on a thrilling journey with a great love story at its heart.
©2010 Bryce Courtenay (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
I have worked in information Technology for 25 years and have run my own small business for 23 years. I love books!
Another wonderful book by Bryce Courtenay and what can I say about Humphrey Bower - the man is a master at bringing the characters to life. My husband and I lived in Singapore for 2 years and it was great that the story was set there. Thanks for another very enjoyable listen!!
This book was just too long. There are some interesting bits in it about the culture of Singapore at the time, and about Australia in the gold rush, but not enough to sustain the length of this book.
I also had some trouble with the romantic aspects of the plot, which did not do it for me.
The narrator was good, but could not bring this book above average for me.
My first Bryce Coutenay book and if it is anything to go by I want to read more. Great story and held me all the way through. Well read by Humphrey Bower.
I am a big fan of Humphrey Bower and have downloaded and listened to books I would not normally consider due to Humphrey being the narrator.
However I think I must have heard to many because Humphrey does not have the range of voices and accents to differentiate characters across books, especially in the Bryce Courtenay books, the Chinese characters in this book sound exactly the same as the Japanese characters in Persimmon Tree, the ladies are always the same plummy English accent across all the books, and the Australians are so stereotypical it is a little annoying, even for me as an Englishman abroad.
Having said this I will still actively search out books narrated by Humphrey and only hope he can develop some additional character voices in the future.
In the same way, Bryce Courtenay needs to refresh his approach to his novels, again I would suggest he tries to expand beyond the narrow view he has of what he wanted to be and trying to realise this through his writings, we all know of his amazing life story which we all wish we had, but some may consider it is just that a story developed in an active mind that is able to translate this to paper. I think the line between Mr Courtenays real life and written life through his novels have blurred into each other to the point where one cannot be sure of the sincerity in either. Yes his books are fantastically descriptive and I cannot help myself but download any offering by the Courtenay/Bower partnership, but I do become more cynical with each tome.
So in Summary, a great book well narrated but maybe just a bit to much like all the rest for the avid, long term listener, if this is you first book by the dynamic duo then you will get great pleasure by spending the next 20 plus hours immersing yourself in the wonderful characters. If, however this is your sixth or seventh by the Courtenay/Bower team be prepared to have heard it all before (I bet like me you still get it though)
Buy it and read. There are no more left. It's by far NOT the best, but it's got Courtenay's mind for detail and knowledge of parts of Asia and his skill in building the plot. I'll miss him and Humphrey Bower, although the latter still lives.. I've now read everything by Courtenay (there was one I didn't as I didn't like the narrator, or I might have but given up).
I truly enjoy Courtney's story telling. Some of his books really hit the mark. Some falter. None fail. This one faltered. Humphrey Bower's narration is worth the price of admission.
Courtenay presents a unique examination of a Eurasian character. I love the happy endings that Courtenay provides in his story - the guy gets the girl. The narrator is very skilled and provides a delightful telling of the story. Enjoyable and absorbing. This story did take a little longer to get into than previous stories (an hour or two) but was well worth it.
I'm a landscape architect by profession and an avid listener of audio books ! I particularly love the historical based fiction series, like Courteney, McCammon, and Gabaldon,. I listen in the car, while designing in my studio and most evenings.
Exciting storyline, well read
You can pick up any of Courtney's book series, like Persimmon Tree or Potato factory and you will be enthralled. He is my favorite story teller taking me to Australia, China or Japan, with vivid characters.
Humphry reads all of Courtney's books, he has the perfect ability to produce the accents for each character...you won't believe how great he is!
Bought and read the second book in this series right away!
An unashamed Audiophile who has his own studio and business called iZENEARS which brings Australian travel and history to life for locals and visitor's alike.
Great read for a book that somehow seemed to slip into historical space while being a story of fiction. Humphrey brought the book to life and the tale was fun but when life is stitched into fantasy it slows the tale down a little. Still, if you like Courtenay’s work I don’t think this will disappoint.
I'm no writer so I can't say. Too many long stretches of boredom!
Paris, A Novel
Humphrey Bower is the only reason this book gets a three star rating. He is consistently excellent and I will try a book he reads even if I am not familiar with the author.
No, Unlike other Courtnay books, except Fishing for Stars, I went through several chapters at time and a half speed or skipping whole chapters. I have about two hours to complete and am hoping for some saving grace.
"Fascinating and well read"
As usual at the end of one of Courtenay's books I've finished learning something about a culture and history I had little knowledge of previously but I've been so engrossed in the story during the telling that I didn't realise it was happening at the time. The narrator's accent sometimes seemed a little off but that's understandable given the storyline. On the other hand it was very acceptable and the characterisation in the reading was superb!
Having the usual problem now remembering which ones I've read and which ones I've only read the synopsis of as I really want to make sure I read/hear them all!
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