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
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)
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...
Sadly, I purchased this book whilst on holiday, hoping for the regular brillance and story telling of Bryce Courtenay, but I was sadly disappointed.
Is unique really
Have read the book so it accurately represents the story and how I imagined it would read.
Mercy B Lord
No - just that I purchased the audio version by mistake and I think there needs to be a check for busy people so they know they don't have the reader version.
This was the first Bryce Courtenay book I have listened to, but it won't be the last.Courtenay really knows how to tell a story. Humphrey Bower's narration makes the book. Also as a personal preference I really like a longer book, more time to get to know the characters and feel lost in another world.
I enjoy reading a wide variety of books, from epics to mysteries, some fantasy, and even better written chick lit. NO bodice rippers please!
I love learning about the Chinese culture of the time and how entertaining Bryce and his team of researchers make the story. I don't often listen or read books twice but this will stay in my library...who knows maybe I will.
"Chairmen Mao", she reminds me of so many matriarchs I have met
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