©2002 Bryce Courtenay; (P)2002 Bolinda Publishing Pty. Ltd.
Matthew Flinders' Cat is an incredible story. As other reviewers have said, Bryce Courtenay handles the painful subjects of alcoholism and pedofelia with complexity and sensitivity.
Billy is a former lawyer, a drunk living on the streets of Sydney, when he meets Ryan, a young streetwise boy with problems of his own.
Without giving away any plot details, their paths converge in wonderful unexpected ways, relying both on coincidence and the story of Trim, a ship's cat who sailed with Matthew Flinders, a famous seaman/cartographer.
As other reviewers have stated, this book tackles some thorny subjects, but always with hope and healing. An easy read, this is not, but Bryce Courtenay and Humphry Bower are such a winning combination that you can't help but keep listening!
Yes, but there were bits I would have skipped in a paper issue. At times it sounded like a documentary rather than a story. I found myself really hoping that Billy would succeed, but then getting tired of the detailed description of the process.
I'm a landscape architect by profession and an avid listener of audio books ! I particularly love the historical based fiction series, like Courteney, McCammon, and Gabaldon,. I listen in the car, while designing in my studio and most evenings.
Not for the faint of heart! Bryce was able to weave together 2 of societies ills, the child pornography trade and alcoholism into a story that made me wince and cry and smile.
This story really helped me understand the program that AA offers and how it helps those that are addicted.
Humphrey Bower is my favorite narrator. His voice and characterizations are spot on! No one else can evoke such laughter and tears from me.
A tough subject to read about, as was his book, Jessica, but well worth your time.
Yes because of good narration and the many twist and turns of a Bryce Courtenay novel.
His ability to catch rats only as the need arose.
When Billy and Ryan are finally reunited
Ryan singing in the church and then disappearing.
Always good to have the 'baddies' caught and put out of business.
Courtenay seemed to capture with authenticity certain Sydney sub-cultures, and the characters were depicted with empathy.
The "cat" passages dragged and were way too long.
Bryce Courtenay should have been an Irishman... he can certainly tell a good yarn. I cared for his characters, but found the devise of the cat a bit unnecessary. It intruded, in my opinion, into the real story of an alcoholic and a sad, unsupported child.
I have already read most of Courtenay's books and really like most of his work.
This one did never really get off the ground.
I wondered why I stayed with it to the end.
No - but I shall seek him out. Hats off to you Mr. Bower!
The story was tightly woven and, quite frankly, stretched my credulity at the coincidences in it a bit much. However, the author made me love the main characters so much I set that aside. In fact, all of the characterisations were rich - even those of minor characters - and the reader was absolutely superb.I loved that it was set in Sydney, a city I've visited many times, and introduced a side of it with which I am thankfully not familiar.
The subject matter is adult and could be very distressing for people dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse as well as very tender-hearted animal lovers. I think there should be a warning of this as it could trigger very deep hurts.
I have read or listened to almost all of Bryce Courtenay's stories. This one was my least favourite. I found the characters uninteresting and the plot rather drawn out. In fact, it is the first of his novels that did not compel me to listen/read to the end.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
This strange and flawed book is actually part history and part modern fiction. Listening to it is like listening to "Rock Around the Clock" against "Adeste Fidelis." Disorienting, absurd. I certainly did not mind the profanity. But I found the style of very good writing to be inconsistent. Great chunks are more like a magazine article than a great Work of Literature! Mr. Courtenay is gone now, so his feelings won't be hurt. I realize he had to do a lot of research to write this book. And some of the book reads like his notes. I was nowhere nearly as glad to get the cat story as Ryan was. And the cat story ends badly. I certainly did not expect to go through detox and twelve-step discussions. Those parts are good but quite protracted; whereas the details of the happy ending are rushed and shortened. Not good. Not fair. I did not see that marriage coming. We deserved several more delicious hours of that paydirt!
The discussion of co-dependency told me that Bryce didn't really get that part. Melody Beattie wrote "Codependent No More" in 1986. The one book has helped scores of Americans, including me. Codependency is almost a physical pain. You can't sit still. You have to make phone calls, write letters, go talk to someone, go check up on someone who is not doing what you think he/she should be doing. You forget to bathe, eat, do laundry, go to bed while you're being codependent. They're doing it to you and you have to tell them! You simply can't walk away or detach. It is miserable! You go to Al Anon meetings and think you will never be free and happy again. You wonder if you were ever normal. Bryce could have pointed out that people who love an alcoholic are torn up in this manner. Then Billy and his mates could begin to appreciate how deeply they were hurting and had hurt the people in their lives. Little kids who are codependent are affected for their entire lives.
Bower's rendition of the song Strange Fruit is very beautiful. He is excellent as usual. Nice meow, too!
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