The Persimmon Tree opens in Indonesia in 1942 on the cusp of Japanese invasion and the evacuation of Batavia (Jakarta) by the Dutch. Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Duncan is on holiday there, in pursuit of an exotic butterfly known as the Magpie Crow. It's an uncertain, dangerous time to be in Indonesia, and Nick's options of getting out are fast dwindling. Amidst the fear and chaos he falls in love with Anna, the beautiful daughter of a Dutch acquaintance, and she nicknames him 'Mr Butterfly'.
To assist in the escape, Anna's father gifts Nick his prized yacht, Vlermuis, to sail to Australia. Singapore has just fallen, the Japanese have made it to Sumatra, and the waters are dangerous. Vlermuis is not long out of Batavia when Nick is forced ashore for repairs. He witnesses the bloody execution of shipwrecked Allied soldiers by natives, and while burying what's left of the bodies, Nick notices one wounded soldier has escaped death, and he carries him back to his yacht.
The rescued soldier is a lower-class Irish Catholic American called Kevin Judge. He has no sailing experience, but he assists Nick in navigating through some dramatic storms and the two form an unlikely and lifelong friendship.
©2007 Bryce Courtenay; (P)2007 Bolinda Publishing
From the moment this book began, I was drawn into the story and looked forward to my long commute each day just so I could "read" more. I look forward to playing it for my husband on our next cross-country trip. There's plenty here for both of us: war scenes, love stories, intrigue, tragedy, cross-cultural interest, historical accounts, hair-raising adventure: So glad I purchased it!
A side of WWII I did not know much about, told though wonderful charactors. Bryce Courtney never disappoints in charactor development and dialogue. Humphrey Bower's voices make this very long listen very entertaining. Predictable ending, but who cares.
This was a wonderful story of the South Pacific during WWII. Very interesting perspective of two young people from completely different backgrounds. I think
both male and female readers will truly enjoy this book.
This seemed to be the best book beginning to end as far as plot, characters, and action. This is number 6, as far as books of Courtenay I have listened to and has a slight edge as my favorite. Kept wanting to get back in the car to continue the book, always a sign of a five star book. Highly recommend. This author and narrator match is probably the best I have listened to. Enjoy.
I love the way Bryce Courtenay mixes fact with fiction so that you almost think you are reading a true story. Loved this story and hated when it finished. Can't wait to hear the Sequel. Humphrey Bower is a great narrater.
The opening lines and narration had me feeling at first that I might have errored in this purchase -- a hokey factor? -- but that was not the case. But, I was completely wrong -- it is for me that the beginning/intro simply captures youth naivete. The story is excellent! It is spellbinding and moves through a long period of WWII in a superb manner tying story elements, personalities, and personal development together. Many parallel themes are linked. Many interesting personalities illuminate the times of WWII. A very long book -- and the narration kept my attention fully, always anxious to hear the next part. Brilliant is perhaps the best way to describe this book with its rare glimps as many culture and many life and cultural themes. Outstanding! The narrator also shows incredible command of the different participants voices. The Japanese are not pitched in a good light, but it is story and history explained, some lessons there -- such may offend some, but half a century later the J. culture is different. The current Japanese culture and people are still at the top of my favorites. Talent everywhere in this book.
I enjoy reading a wide variety of books, from epics to mysteries, some fantasy, and even better written chick lit. NO bodice rippers please!
As usual, Bryce has written another interesting novel about a point in history that is fascinating and has allowed another set of characters to survive by their natural intelligence, and kindness to fellow man. I enjoyed learning the history of the Pacific campaign of WWII, also. I highly recommend this book.
I read EVERYTHING by my beloved modern-day Dickens, Bryce Courtenay. I love this story. But, I hate to say, his characters are getting kind of predictable, and maybe, though I LOVE Humphrey Bower's narration, it's time to get a new narrator. The voice of all black people was quaint at first, but now I'm starting to find it offensive. And Bryce - dig into your cupboard and find a few new characters. Dig deeper - they are beginning to all be so typical - anybody who reads lots of Courtenay knows what I mean. Let's find a new one - totally different. K? That all being said - I will keep reading everything of his and this book really IS excellent for its own purposes! I do love an old-fashioned, well-wrapped-up ending, and appreciate that Courtenay always provides, as Dickens always did.
A good novel is tightly woven; each detail has a purpose. This is not that kind of novel. This is a rambling history of the war in the pacific overlaid with a love story whose events seem both cliched and absurdly impossible. It's not a bad book, in fact it's absorbing at times, it's just way too long and annoyingly repetitive. If you are looking for a well written, tightly plotted novel with a satisfying conclusion, keep looking, this is not the book for you. If you don't mind strange tangents, characters without purpose, and an interesting view of the WW2 Pacific theater, it's OK.
I'm enjoying listening my way through Courtenay's books since I discovered The Potato Factory. I find them very satisfying listens with great characters, description and stories. The Persimmon Tree was no exception, but I wish I knew more about what happened in the end!
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