The four fires in this story are passion, religion, warfare, and fire itself. While there are many more fires that drive the human spirit, love being perhaps the brightest flame of all, it is these four that have moulded us most as Australian people. The four fires give us our sense of place and, for better or for worse, shape our national character.
©2010 Bryce Courtenay (P)2008 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"Humphrey Bower, speaking as Mole, delivers every possible nuance and emotion of his character’s story, and shows a startling aptitude for other dialects as well. Close family friends and enemies include surviving Polish Jews, an East Indian healer, an Irish Catholic priest, Japanese prison camp soldiers, and many others. All of them, young and old, male and female, spring to vivid life in Bower’s versatile voice. Narrative passages and dialogue elicit tears and laughter by turns, without a minute of boredom in the 30-hour production." (AudioFile magazine)
J.F., CA. I am a voracious "bookaholic" who enjoys many different genres. I am often listening to/reading multiple books at the same time.
This author had me since the Power of One. His books are always a tour de force. The characters are ALWAYS well developed and generally complex (meaning they are worth having a story told about them). Courtenay's books teaches about history, social systems and cultures in a way that the reader does not mind at all. His books are always a fantastic ride. The stories are always interesting, the dialogue believable - never cliched, preachy or overly verbose unless necessary to the plot. The only thing I do not like with many of Courtenay's books are the details about war and/or boxing when those elements are a part of the story. That of course does not mean anything is wrong with those subjects, just that I do not particularly like endless details on these subjects. The pairing of narrator Humphrey Bower with Courtenay is a marriage made in heaven. Bower is exceptionally talented and is a master at different accents and dialects. It would be awkward for me to listen to Courtenay's work narrated by anyone else. Courtenay is the #1 author in his country, Australia. He is extremely prolific and has written many books. He has indicated in his interviews that he has many more books to write before he dies and he therefore maintains a very disciplined writing schedule. This tells you that this man oozes with writing gift and story ideas.
Another good Bryce Courtenay story, Four Fires is nonetheless a difficult story to listen to, especially the lengthy recapitulation of the horrors of his Borneo POW experiences as recounted by the protagonist's father. The tale's strength lies, however, in the complex, somewhat dysfunctional, but still powerful family relationships. Definitely a worthwhile read, which I found enriched by Humphrey Bower's performance and vocal characterizations (although he may be improving in this regard, I object to his accents for white Americans--nearly as bad as most BBC actors').
This even supersedes Power of One, which I absolutely loved, but only just!
The whole art of integrating different characters,different viewpoints,different dialects is made to look easy when listening to this book. Bryce Courtenany brings his characters alive and with such compelling storylines that it's hard to stop listening.
I had already read this book an age ago but on discovering Humphrey Bowers ability to bring other books alive with his truly wonderful accents and nuances with each different character,was not disappointed when listening to this performance,absolutely one of his best to date!
It would be wonderful to be at dinner with the whole of the extended Maloney family, to be able to watch the interactions going on all around and feeling that you know them so well due to the depth of the authors and narrators performance
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I wasn't certian that I would fully appreciate this book since it is by an Austrailian author with the story background set in Australia. I can say without reservation that this is one of the best books that I haver ever listened to. The narrater is amazing! It was easy to forget that it was read by a single person because his voice changed with each character. I am sure that this is a book that I will listen to again sometime in the future. Thank you!
In view of the recent local bushfires in WA, of deliberate & accidental origin, it was earie to be reading this graphic & moving account of the Moloney family. The narration is excellent, giving each of the characters a life of their own. A moving & diverse fiction it may be, but Bryce Courtney certainly fires it with life.
This book took me a few hours to get into, but once I did I was hooked! The narrator is fantastic, and the character development is top notch. There's even a bit of history and environmental threads woven in, so I felt I learned a few things by the end of it! Very highly recommended.
I just finished Four Fires. I loved it from start to finish. I read it following Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken and it was the perfect match. Everything I have ever read about WWII has been about the Holocaust. Both of these novels give an entirely different perspective - that of what it was like in the Japanese POW camps.
Bryce Courtney and Humphrey Bower have once again proved to be a fantastic combination.
This is an exceptional story by Bryce Courtenay, as an Australian who lives in the area the main characters are set in, Bryce Courtenay's descriptions of the landscape and the Australian way of life in that era are spot on.
Humphrey Bowers narration is perfect, the tempo is just right and his accents are incredible.
The story is beautifully enhanced by the narration.
A rich historical novel and family saga whose characters are fully developed and realized. Courtenay takes us into the fascinating worlds of the Australian Bush, fashion and the garment industry, religious bigotry, the horrors of World War II and VIetnam, and the struggles of a proud family. Every character engaged me and won my sympathy and interest. Humphrey Bower, the reader is a consummate artist. His performance is phenomenal.
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