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
I have previously listened to The Power of One and Tandia by the same author and narrator. Thoroughly enjoyed The Power of One. Enjoyed Tandia a little less. I'm deducting a star from my rating of The Persimmon Tree because I was so disappointed by the ending. I thought at first that part of the book did not get downloaded and I missed a big chunk of the end. Will still try another Courtenay book but probably not Fishing for Stars (the sequel to The Persimmon Tree).
There was so much detail throughout the book until the end. I wanted a substantial ending!
I cannot speak for all the accents, but his English with a Japanese accent is amazing.
Initially I would have said yes because I wanted the stories of Nick and Ana to continue. But after reading reviews of Fishing for Stars, I'm content to leave them as I envision them now.
I've read every one of BC's novels and have loved them all.
It would be difficult to listen to a better narrator. Bower is fantastic!
Unfortunately, I did not read the print version. The audio version was a perfect way to occupy two weeks of my commute.
Courtenay's account of the experience on the beach was depicted with skill. He made his audience feel the experience.
I look forward to my next adventure with Courtenay.
great read of love during war of not only countries but cultures, minorities, and genders. Readers ability to change accents, languages made listening very enjoyable.
The lead character was so dumb and so naive that he just got me too angry to listen beyond the first few hours. Chasing butterflies and saying prayers over the dead when he should have been high-tailing it from the Japanese.
The lead character.
Only the narration saved it, slightly.
I'm a bit surprised that nobody commented on what to me was the main story here. The love of the two young people that meet and are separated in the beginning.
While the female is captured an abused through the war and therefore a ruined wreck that feels no one can love her anymore, the male main character has an exciting varied experience, taking what he can get from any women that comes in his path (they often throw themselves after him). And all the time he supposedly is upholding the female heroine as the only and perfect love for him.....
And he rescues her and brings her back to life, heroically overlooking her years as a sexual plaything, while his sexual history is a complete non topic. Tragically outdated view of male an female sexuality and roles.
There is no excuse that this was as it was back then. It is presented as just how it should be, without a comment. I generally have problems with books that seem to be partly the male authors juvenile wet dreams. It just ruins any story however well written otherwise.
I only gave this two stars since history and Australia interest me, but if what the book covers on these topics is just as untrustworthy, there isn't much left and it only deserves one.
I listened through hoping for some ending where the main male character might grow a bit morally and otherwise. Since the book was well written, I hoped for an ending that could mend some of the hopeless parts. But it didn't and I threw the audio book out.
I enjoyed every minute this book. It was wide ranging in time and place, with interesting characters and insight into the Japanese which was fascinating in its context to their occupation of Java during the Second World War.The reading, with the varying accents of male and female of different races was absorbing and added considerably to my enjoyment. The book also told me so much about this period in history, such as the Dutch occupation, their treatment of the Javanese, the terrible use of young Dutch girls as' comfort women' and the experience of 'Anna' and the upper levels of the Japanese forces. Her 'training ' in sexual pleasuring ,her retention of her innocence'the pearl' and her eventual reunion with 'Nick' ,were all absorbing listening.
The adventures of Nick himself were real Boys Own adventure, from sailing the yacht Butterfly from Java to Australia, to his training and success behind enemy lines,his background as a gentle butterfly collector and his search for his father, eventually dovetailing with his first love Anna.
I loved every minute.beta inappVoteInfo
"Touching love story"
This is an intimate, intricate story which I will return to many times in the future. The characters are vividly drawn and the storyline shows real humanity and humility. Seeing how war touches certain characters and how they react to it made me angry, sad - desperately sad, hopeful, touched, and, in the end, inspired.
The book is long, with lots of narrative and dialogue, yet it never feels forced. It flows beautifully. Each time the story moves from one place to another I was left bereft, wondering what was going to happen next in the previous storyline, before being very quickly swept up in a new or delighting in a continuance of a previous thread like I was greeting an old friend.
This is the first novel I have read/listened to by Bryce Courtenay but I will be looking out for him again. I remain moved by his writing.
Humphrey Bower is a masterful narrator with a wonderful array of voices to bring each character to life. Again, I will be looking for more novels narrated by him.
I found it hard knowing I was drawing near to the close of this story and I know I will be thinking about it for a very long time.
I hope that you love this story as much as I do, and that you are left feeling moved. I feel my life is richer for having experienced this story.
"Charming and chilling"
A chilling story with charming characters,even the bad guys. I loved this book and I was hooked from the first listening. The narration was masterful.
This isn't just an interesting story, it is filled with wonderful descriptions, and insights into the Japanese culture, way of thinking. I could not stop listening to it, yet did not want it to end.
"Nice story set in a historic perspective"
I find it always nice to get something more out of a novel when set in an ethnic or historic perspective. In this case Jave around the second wolrd war.
The nice thing about Bryce Courtenay is that it's a friendly, possitive and gentle story; so nice reading. A fascinating story-line. At times a bit very heroic, but it's just nice (I hate horror and evil). There is always a lot in Courtenay's possivitism.
Great story-teller, great story, great performance! Much enjoyed!
A couple who are seperated during the Japanses invasion recount their different experiencesd of the war. Very moving and enlightening. This was a part of history we did not touch on at school. Painful and real but touching.
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