©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 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.
I won’t spoil this book for those who have not yet listened to it. I will just say that after the absolutely perfect 10 star epic Potato Factory, and the lesser but almost equally enjoyable, Tommo and Hawk, this finale comes up short. The author has dropped his previous deep character development for an anti-war statement that the listener can see coming from a mile away. So many great storylines just piddle out and the entire book shifts into nothingness, with a completely predictable and abrupt "message" ending. I absolutely love this trilogy and am so sad that it ended with such disappointment. Having said that, the overall story was well worth the credits and I'm 90% happy with it all. Then again, I was 200% happy after The Potato Factory :)
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.
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.
The story of the Solomons is the least interesting if the three, but the story telling of the war is getting, horrifying, and amazing all at once. A must read to complete the trilogy...
I loved the first 3 books. This one I had to fast forward through about an hour of because it was about war. the problem was that it interspersed great stories about great characters, but the entire time it was in the trenches of battles.
I thought the story of WW1 was wonderful. The ending is very disappointing. Unbelievable and way too rushed. Such a bad way to end a three book series.
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