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; 2013 Christine Courtenay (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
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 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)
I love all genres of books. However, when I listen to audio books as I clean, garden, drive they are better with a lot of heat!
Courtenay enjoys immense popularity in Australia, strangely according to wikipedia only "The Power of One" has been published in America which was also made into a major motion picture. The only Courtenay book that I have read is the tragic & true "April Fools Day" which was OK but needed editing as the second half dragged.
Fortune Cookie is Courtenay's latest book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Courtenay does get a little too caught up in the concept of "face" but I couldn't stop reading.
The main character is Simon Khoo who is Australian born & bred with chinese heritage & chinese looks who despite having a filthy rich family takes a job in Singapore to make it on it's own. He's a very likeable main character and he falls in love with Mercy B Lord a lady he meets upon arrival in Singapore. Mercy B Lord is a very mysterious lady which ultimately makes the book interesting and makes you want to keep reading to see how the events transpire.
Humphrey Bower was outstanding as the narrator
Too much whining about the woman.....I did like the history of
ancestral worship in China.
It was okay, but not very realistic.
Not one of his most riveting of stories - if you can get through the boggy and sometimes sappy beginning, then you will make it to the end. There just wasn't enough "oomph" for me in this one.
Somebody with a limited attention span or poor memory, since the book is extremely repetitive and has many internal inconsistencies.
The book needs a good editor, and I was itching all through to get my hands on it. We are told the same things over and over again, and then still again, the main character is not believable or logical (when his beloved calls him in tears, sobs and says they can never see each other again and then abruptly hangs up, he questions why she is so heartless; he comes from a wealthy family and is highly educated yet talks like a builder ), the characters are like stereotypes with no depth, there are so many internal inconsistencies (phone calls described then later moved to another time, information shared then shared again as if the character had not heard it 3 pages before), and we are told weird things which have nothing to do with the story and which the author claims are of no interest to anyone, yet relates in detail (how brandy is made??). The story itself is interesting, but poorly told, with all the really interesting stuff occurring in the last 60 minutes of a book that takes over 21.5 HOURS to listen to. A whole speech about the CIA involvement in the drug trade in Asia occurs very late and is interesting information, but somehow detracts from the story rather than adds to it.
I think his asian women sounded very strange. Normally I love his multiple voices, but I think he was stuck with appalling dialogue and unbelievable characters. So I could not really separate his reading from the poor storytelling.
Interesting story overall, interesting view into advertising in Australasia in the 60s. With editing to remove about 50% of the useless text, it would have been a good book.
I am very sorry I listened to this...I have always loved Bryce Courtenay and his characters, and this has sort of ruined my opinion of him, that he would publish such a mess of a book.
I would not recommend the book. It is boring and I found it repulsive it times.
He reads the roles well. The American accent was a little off, but entertaining.
Bryce Courtenay is my favorite author; I am so sad that he will be writing no more books. Fortune Cookie is another great listen. Characters are interesting and situations they get into are unpredictable. I am always sad when Courtenay books end - it like the listener becomes part of the family.
A very creative book that is realistic,a little slow at first ,but well worth the wait.
Bryce Courtenay and Humphrey Bower have never let me down...
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