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; ©2013 Christine 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)
This is a classic australian underdog story - warts and all.
Bryce Courtnay is probably Australia's greatest author. He is an immigrant and fittingly this story is full of characters both "5 generation aussies" and people who have adopted Australia as their own.
His story tells of Australia as it is in the 50s and 60s. The friction between people who follow different churches. The statement on how aboriginals are considered lower than human beings. Touching glimpses of Auschwitz survivors living in rural Australia. People impacted by various wars and impact on families.
In it all, Bryce's candor and ability to weave an engaging story shines through. The story is about the Moloney family who are the lowest of the low in a rural backwater and practically nobodies. They barely survive working as garbage collectors, the father's a drunk and a convict, the mum's a feisty overweight woman and the 4 kids are all from different fathers - yet the story is not predictable. Through their varied stories Bryce pulls together a mosaic of Australian people that is engaging, brilliant and satisfying.
Aussie truckie, on the long haul!
A good example of australian country town life back in the fifties.
I don't really have a favourite one, every character plays their part nicely but i do think tommy's story about his p.o.w treatment in ww2 had my ear buds stuck firmly in my ears & also made me shed a few tears too...
yes i have listened to quite a few of humphrey's narrations & i think he really brings out the australian country town accent perfect in this book, my opinion of humphrey is that he rarely gets a character's accent wrong & nearly always brings the book to life.
One of my favourite bryce courtenay books, just remember it is a work of fiction, but with a good deal of research & facts thrown in which gives it a sort of non fiction feel. A must for anyone who loves to kill a bit of time with a great audio book.
Quintessentially Australian story with a rich lineup of characters.
Mole as he was so believable.
Mole- he felt like I knew him and could easily spend time talking.
I just never tire listening to this great writer's books. Lost count of how many now, but it feels like Humphrey Bower is a mate of mine. I cannot wait to listen again.
This is a great story or perhaps series of stories about a family from down under. Washed in the Australian dialect which made Crocodile Dundee a popular hit.
But the best part of this read is the reader. How did God grant one human such talent to provide a dozen or more distinct voices, each of which is perfect. Well done
By the time I was done with this book I felt I had lived in Australia for at least 19 years. I could easily say I felt at home but I was merely a transplant who watched it all fade away at the last word. I always enjoy Bryce's books, well, except Sylvia. This one is a close second to the Power Of One, which is the BEST.
He writes characters that you wish you really could meet and lives you wish you lived. Do take the chance on this book, I truly believe you'll enjoy it -as I did.
Brit in Exile
So, as I mentioned in the title, this was my 7th Bryce Courtenay novel and I have listened to every one narrated by Humphrey Bower. Actually, I am now in the middle of 'The Persimmon Tree' which will be my 8th. So why haven't I just reviewed all of them - I should have done, but just haven't sat down on this site to do so. They are all superb, but I have never felt quite so engaged in a book and thoroughly moved and literally emotionally wrenched by a novel as I was with Four Fires. The description of the experiences of Tommy as a POW had me in tears, the love and togetherness of the Maloney Family is touching, humorous and essentially uplifting.
As with most of what I have read by Bryce Courtenay, the research into the history, the development of the characters and the sheer artfulness of the storyline are a delight. Put all this together with an outstanding narrator in Humphrey Bower and you have an unforgettable experience - Highly Recommended, as are all of these books, especially with the combination of author and narrator. I am just sorry that I am going to run out of books to listen to by BC in the next couple of months!!
I have read many of courteney's books and i do tjink i enjoyed this one the most.
The most memorable moment for me was going to the bush with tommie to see the great tree and tommiie telling his story of being a pow.m
Mr bower is a very good narrator with all of these books by mr courtenay.when sarah
When sarah told the family she was pregnant.
It is a bloody long book and I doubt that I would have finished reading this book if I had purchased it in hard copy. It is a beautifully written story but Humphrey Bower makes it truly come alive. His change of voice and intonation, accent, and full study of the characters gives his presentation of this read a story you can't soon forget. I could highly recommend this for the pure enjoyment of listening to each character he presents.
I almost never listen or read twice. But this narrator is my absolute favorite! He's a genious at every character; both male and female, Australian, Polish, Indian, Brit, American (black and white). Also, this author is one of my favorites (I love historical fiction) and always learn something new about Australia and more from Bryce Courtenay while being tremendously entertained by the humor and real characters.
It's like Angela's Ashes- poor family makes good of their situation, but with more detail, history, and the best narrator ever.
Who can pick? He's a genius at EVERYONE!! All the Maloney's- male and female- as well as Murray and Sophie (Polish Jews), Mrs. Rika Ray (Indian) the Americans in Vietnam (Black and White!) the Brits in London.
The story is told from the point of view of Mole Maloney, so I have to choose him. But Sarah and Nancy Maloney hit home because I'm female. Each character in EVERY Bryce Courtenay book is always amazingly rendered that it's very hard to pick a favorite. They each INSPIRE in their own way.
Bryce, I hope you live a LONG time and continue to write more and more incredible books like this. Thank you to all who worked on this important book. Thanks Humphrey for your brilliant work at bringing these characters to life.
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