©1999 Bruce Courtenay; (P)2000 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"Narrator Humphrey Bower doesn't miss a nuance. His villains have a sharp, nasal nastiness, and his love scenes tickle the hairs at the nape of the neck. Bower's performance is spot-on." (Audiofile)
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
While some reviewers seem to think this last in the trilogy of the story of the Solomon family falls short of the first two, I disagree. I found it very interesting, covering two more generations of the Solomons. All stories, particularly those containing the history of a nation, cannot be swash buckling, jungle hopping, tales. Solomon's Song does have quite a bit, including the Australia's involvement in WWI in Gallopi and France. I loved that this book focused on the relationships between Hawk and his brother's daughter, and her two children. The honesty with which Hawk mentored and parented the two grandchildren of his brother, Tommo, is the meat of the story to me. When he told them that doing what was right and good had never landed him much happiness in this world, but that he recommended it anyway, well, that sealed the deal.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
Well, how was Courtenay supposed to end this story based on history? I needed to hear about Gallipoli as I didn't even know where it was! I have seen people just shake their heads in mention of it, so I needed this book with its carefully planned descriptions -- rats included! Courtenay is not simply taking a stand against war, like choosing milk over lemon. He expresses several times his gut level take on the results of old men planning a war that young men will die fighting. I have sat frustrated in staff meetings with lieutenant bars on my own shoulders across from a grizzled and giggling major, while waiting for an elderly Lieutenant Colonel way past his sell-by date to say, "Well we kicked that around enough -- " without making any decision whatsoever! I have seen how ego rules these matters. And my Vietnam veteran husband left a poem about old men playing dominos, the domino theory being a knee-jerk shorthand picture of strategy in Southeast Asia where so many of his friends died, including Jack Freppon, a blond orphan raised in NYC's Harlem by a black family. Jack was hit while waving to his friend across a hillside.
Courtenay set up the shocking end to this book by carefully describing the various family members and how their lives were moving along as WWI approached. He even describes Victoria's "toilette" on the day she meets with David and Abraham Solomon. This is a marvelous lesson in dressing for success practiced decades before its time: no makeup, hair in a bun, neutral colors, sensible shoes. And Hawk's first idea had been to have her tart herself up! She has already finished law school. We get it loud and clear that this is a powerful and determined young woman embodying oodles of potential, whether or not her brother comes forward. We see how David has taken charge of indoctrinating Joshua, how Abraham is a reasonable man sadly overshadowed by his father. Alas, while the good die young, the bad sometimes do die old! Courtenay shows us that Hawk feels his strength waning, even as his mind and will are clear. Hawk is measuring himself against the task at hand, doing his best to set precedents that will reward future generations.
Then Ben comes forward as a true hero, a man who can always think what to do next when others are literally losing their heads. We know he is handsome like his Dutch father, but I fell in love with his intensity, his coming up with creative solutions to impossible situations. Anyone forced to work for an inadequate supervisor can appreciate how Ben is able to work with a real weirdo young OIC and turn him into a cooperative team member and ultimately a friend and brother. Suddenly we see the results of constant practice of a skill -- both with the rifle and in Ben's case with the Maori fighting axe. We see the men ordered to help each other, friendships formed that will have to continue in Heaven.
Sarah Atkins is a real breath of fresh air near the end of the book. Always having to scrimp, extremely modest, she is amazed when Ben treats her to a new coat in London. Another coat for her friend. Ben puts his money where they can well enjoy it. Obviously, Sarah has no clue her fiance is wealthy! These descriptions are delicious. As in, "We'll always have Paris!" or in this case, London. In looking online for historical background, I opened a 99-year-old document showing lists of nurses with sweet names like Edith and Myrtle.
No, the book doesn't fizzle at the end! We can imagine the rest. Joshua will never lead the company! Victoria will have to work with Abraham. We can hope she marries and has fine children and a real helpmeet in her partner. I would love to know more of the sources Mr. Courtenay used for this story. But to take the story any further would be like kicking around ideas about Prince William and his Kate. It will be what it is. History happens. Better to stop here and get it loud and clear that wars are planned by old men and solve nothing.
Not likely. It is a long listen and the third of a series. I'm not likely to listen to books again, especially trilogies which require so much more time. There are a few slow parts in this 3rd novel - particularly through the beginning to middle. The last third is very engaging though. I would highly recommend this book - the whole triology as a first read though. The stories have a nice mix of fictional history, great character development, and tie together (throughout all three novels). Story flows nicely from beginning to end. The beginning/middle of this third novel was a little slow in comparison to the stories in the other two novels. And I wondered if Courtenay was ever going to develop the younger Solomons - Victoria, Ben, and Joshua. But the last third of the book makes up for some of the slow parts earlier in the novel. I usually listen to audiobooks during my commute. When I arrive at my destination, I find it hard to turn off the novel - and have even driven around for a while just to listen to it longer.
For new readers to Courtenay - his novels can be a bit tragic. If you prefer romantic novels or really happy-go-lucky stories then you will hate this novel.
All other Bryce Courtenay novels (Tommo and Hawk, Persimmon Tree, Power of One).
The war scenes reminded me a lot of Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. If you don't like hearing about tragedies or war scenes, then you will hate the last third of this novel. I found it very interesting - both in the details of the missions/battles and with the development of the characters as soldiers prior to and after battle.
Yes - excellent as always. Bower's narration is one of my favorite parts of the audiobooks. I couldn't imagine better narration. Great accents and enthusiasm (or lack thereof where appropriate).
Ben Tinkelman. Who wouldn't love the bloke after reading that novel? He is loved by his mates, thoughtful, and well humored. But I have no doubts Victoria or Hawk would make for a great dinner conversation.
Somehow, no matter the medium, the third entry in any trilogy ends up being the weakest entry in the series--Return of the Jedi and Godfather III being the most glaring examples. So, while not near as bad as the final Godfather film, Solomon's Song is decidedly worse than its forerunners. That being said, it is still a 3 1/2 - 4 star book.
The story picks up after the events of Tommo & Hawk but the next 20 years are skimmed through very quickly. There are more problems between the two branches of Ikey's family, dealing with the brewing business, but the crux of the story deals with the First World War and its repercussion for both the Solomon family and Australia as a whole. We follow Mary's great-grandson and Tommo's grandson, Ben Teekleman, as he lands on the beaches of Galipoli and fights the Turks in the name of Great Britain.
Galipoli was to become the seminal event that gave the people of Australia their identity. After the Battle of Galipoli, they were steadfastly Australian, set apart from the English, much like their cousins in America after the War of Independence. It is a fitting end to Courtenay's "love song to Australia," portraying the moment at which a people whose identity has always been tied to the Mother Country become a seperate and unique nation of individuals.
I have read some reviews that say this book was unnecessary and that Courtenay should have finished the story with Tommo & Hawk. I wholeheartedly disagree. It is true that, compared with The Potato Factory and Tommo & Hawk, this book is decidedly inferior. However, it is still an important and fitting end to this historically fictional account of Australia--from penal colony to independent nation. And besides, while it may not live up to its predecessors, the book is still very good. If you have read the first two entries, it is well worth your time and money to finish the story of Ikey Solomon, Mary Abacus, and their descendants.
I guess I just missed the characters of the first two. Not much really happened and I suspect it was meant to tribute Australia's contribution to WWII. It did a good job of that. For me it was too much fighting and not enough story.
I started the novel but an ear infection slowed my iPod listening down, but it did not dampen my enjoyment ... what a marvelous trilogy - "Solomon's Song" concluded this series without leaving me wondering or wanting ... Humphrey Bower gave an exemplary reading throughout bring each character to a satisfying fullness making it so easy to keep up with all the personalities ... Bryce Courtenay wrote a brilliant trilogy that kept my attention book one thru book three - rest your soul, your talent will be missed ... I highly recommend this trilogy whether you like fiction, historical fiction, Australian fiction or just a rousing good story - it crosses so many genres ... I hope folks will enjoy this trilogy in the future as much as I did!
Late middle-aged constant reader who greatly prefers Audible "reads" to radio. I love all books -- Audible, eReader and print editions.
I really had no idea what to expect from this saga but I found myself driving around the block day after day to finish portions of the story on my car player. I learned abobut the Gallipoli campaign, the growth of the economy in Australia, New Zeland and Tasmania and was fascinated by the richness of the settings. The characters were not studied in detail, but they caught the imagination and captured my attention. It was a delightful discovery.
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