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 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!
The main character Nick was completely unlikeable near the end of the novel. I kept hoping he'd get his legs blown off in the war.
Overall, I enjoyed the story, especially the first sections. It was slightly spoiled by the male protagonist's sexual exploits which had a bit of a breathless "written to appeal to the lads" overlay.
Compelling to the End
You cant compare Bryce's work, why would you, he's a master story teller
Humphrey Bower would have to be the best narrator I have ever listened to, his ability to style the difference voices throughout his performance, really does add value to this book
I diid not know that it was the first book of 2. I actually read Finishing for the Stars first!
The condensed version would be better! An interesting story, the narrator was terrific, but it got bogged down in so much detail that I did not care about.
Excellant Aussie Histiory
Humphrey is supberb at all accents he tries
the javanese village atmosphere
Read with quality and understanding
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