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)
Although the book is long, it never drags. Beautifully written and beautifully performed. Loved Power of One, but this was even better.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
This book is not bad but is too long and rambling. I loved Bryce’s Courtenay’s “The Power of One,” and I enjoyed “Tandia,” but now he has gone off the deep end with a long saga that tries to include too many characters. Also, his propensity to have the goodness of the main characters shine through no matter what their humble situation is, in this book, maudlin and over the top.
I will say that each of the various stories did, at times, really engage me and pull on my heartstrings. The narrator, Mole, is damaged by his war-scarred father, Tommy. Mole’s admiration for his father is heartwarming. His father’s war story is grueling and tragic, but it is really long and boring at the same time. Ugh; that could have been shortened. Mole’s adaptation to life in the bush is interesting, especially the descriptions of fire fighting in Australia. I learned a lot about forest fires in the process. The ending of Mole’s story, at the very end of the book after all those hours of listening, ironically ends up seeming too quickly wrapped up. It’s like Courtenay finally ran out of steam or the editor said ENOUGH. The brother who is in the fashion industry has an interesting story, as well. However, if I were shortening the book, I’d probably have left his part out. My favorite story was the family’s oldest daughter, Sarah, and her feminist struggle to get accepted into medical school against great odds and as a pregnant single woman in backwoods Australia. I liked that. Also the family’s friends, Sophie and Maurie SuckFizzle, have a sad but uplifting story of triumph over adversity, but again this verges into sentimentality and maudlin territory. Then there is the brother who stays around and leads the family to economic success in the trucking business. In all, there are just too many characters and too much territory for one book.
I was really glad when it was over. I may be finished with Bryce Courtenay. I had to search and search for a kindle copy of the book to go along with my audio version. Now I think I know why it was hard to find.
I listened to "The Potato Factory" and "Tommo and Hawk" and was fairly hooked on Bryce Courtenay. Four Fires proved to me that Mr. Courtenay is consistent in his ability to deliver well-developed characters and an intricate story every time!
Bryce has become one of my favorite authors and have listened to many of his books. I still feel that The Power of One is his best - but this one is close. Great story line with some laugh out loud moments - especially with Mole's mother Nancy. And of course the narrator is marvelous - his flawless performance of the accents of the different characters really makes the performance an A+.
The book is typical of Courtenay. He can tell a story. Yes his characters are larger than life and the melodrama is at times a bit thick but still, he pulls it off. There is to me always a bit of an overly romantic quality to his books that would be very hard to take if it wasn't for his skill as a writer. So I know that what I am listening to is at times way over the top and that for one as cynical and jaded as I am this is not a typical choice of book but I enjoyed it immensely..
A lot of the credit for this belongs to the narrator. Bower is as good as it gets.
I've downloaded the unabridged audible version of almost all of Bryce Courtenay's books. The primary reason is that Humphrey Bower is one of my favorite audible book narrators. He makes a story come alive with his uncanny ability to change accents, and even makes me believe I'm hearing a woman's voice. As for the story-- this one is very epic. I had just finished listening to "Jessica" which is one of the saddest stories I've heard in a long time. With this book, I found the Maloney family to be fascinating. Nancy, as the feisty mom, is a woman I grew to admire as the fought to make sure her kids were given every opportunity to make something grand of their lives. She wanted them to have a better life than she did. Rough as she was, around the edges, I admired her devotion to her children. I've noticed a repeating theme, with the author's books-- the Christian characters are often portrayed as hypocrites, and misguided in what Christianity is all about. I notice this, because I'm a Christian. I won't get into my religious beliefs/views, except to say that not all Christians are hypocrites. So, it saddens me to see a rather unfavorable view of Christians...though, I have no doubt there are plenty of evil people who go to church. Moving on... I'm a bit of a girly-girl, so I have a tough time reading about war and torture and gore. So, when Tommy finally reveals the story of his time as a prisoner (and this is not a spoiler, because you know it's coming), I found his story to be like a train wreck. I wanted to look away) albeit, fast forward. Yet, I listened to it. It's heart-breaking, to be reminded about prisoners of war, and the suffering they endured. Yet. we need to be reminded.
I'm sad that Bryce Courtenay has passed away, and there will be no more of his books to read/listen to. I've never been to Australia, so his stories are my armchair to traveling the world. Well done, Mr. Courtenay. Thank you.
I read like a madwoman all my life but now I have bad eyes. Thank goodness for audio books
The narrator is so good if you have bad eyes like I do you won't need the print version. You will love it.
I liked everyone in the family. This family really sticks together and at the same time you get to listen to some of the history of Australia. Since that country started a lot like ours I have always been interested in it. Must read for a historical novel lover like I am.
This is a good narrator. I have loved him since I listened to the Power of One.
The author has a way of making the characters come to life. There are so many places for despair and triumph it is hard to stop reading it.
I am an Australian woman who enjoys reading many different styles of books, from history to sci fi and mystery to poetry.
More for Australians than anything else. This is small town Australia, warts and all. Loved the performance, loved the story.
In the top with most of Bryce Coutenay's books.
When Mike and Sarah make a presentation to the elderly fashion designer who is out of touch with her world.
When Nancy was dying and gave the new alb to the parish priest.
I love Bryce Coutenay's books especially read by Humphrey Bowers. He is a phenomenal reader who makes the characters come alive in stories that may be fictional but contain a wealth of history and human pathos and living.
Well Done. The performance added depth to the characters.
Epic good read. Memorable Characters who drew forth great emotion. I found myself laughing out loud, enraged and near tears at different points in the novel. Not many authors can draw me into such emotional responses. Very well written!
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