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
Most subjects Courtenay writes about I find interesting if not fascinating, however the large middle section of this book about the woman's training to please her captor held almost no interest for me at all. But that's just me, you may love this part of the book. This was my least favorite Courtenay book to date.
I love most books and I gave this book as much time as I could. I found that this lacked excitment. Even moments that should have been exciting were just really over described. I have never reviewed a book before but I got this on my recomended list so I wanted to let others know that if you like Ken Follet, Dianna Gabledon or you read Shanteram and liked them, this book is not for you!
Wife, mother, nanna, part time actor, avid reader, world traveller, golfer, bridge player, lover of life.
This book is a must read. Bryce Courtney does the Australian Servicemen and Women proud in this epic novel of what it means to be young, Aussie and flung into a war only to have to cope with the consequences of the decisions made during that war. I am so proud to be able to say this book was written and researched thoroughly because there isn't one thing I could fault. Bryce Courtney is no longer with us but I will be sure to read the prequel to this story next. Love it!
Each part of this engrossing tale is as gripping and enjoyable as the last. So Australian. Some of the Aussie sayings are brought to life by Humphrey Bower and said exactly as my parents used to all the time. I particularly liked the one "After the matinee, you still have to go home and mow the lawn." The writing is wonderful and many memories of how my mother and father survived during the war came to life in this book as both of them served as officers in the Australian Army.
His accents are spot on. I like all of his characters especially the Japanese and Javanese characters. The women too. Anna, Marg etc. all delivered with a slightly gentler tone. He is my favourite reader thus far.
Anna because she reminds me a little of myself. I love her bravery in the most frightening of situations.
I generally don't like Bryce Courtney's writing but this one has whet my appetite for more.
I read a lot of reviews before I take on a book by an unfamiliar author who is supposedly very popular somewhere else (like Australia) -- so I am surprised that none of the many reviews I read mentioned how larded this book is with juvenile, uninteresting sex (for the male lead), or perverted sexually-oriented abuse (for/by the female lead). Boring smut, descriptions of penises, and sexual stereotyping (Asians, Catholics, etc) completely undermine a potentially interesting WWII novel that starts out intriguingly. Although to be honest, a lot of the novel's plot that is not sexual consists of unbelievable lucky breaks, discoveries of cash, and field promotions. Can't believe I have actually made it to within three hours of the end (only because it is gardening season and I have hours of listening time).
Humphrey Bower is a fabulous performer with an amazing ability to give real personality to the various characters, so there is no doubt who is speaking. His talent for accents is outstanding!
It has to be Anna but Til (spelling?) is a second!
The characters' voices! He is so talented - there is no way to fully appreciate a book like this by simply reading it.
I can't think of anything that wouldn't sound trite - it is well-named.
I might have liked a more extended ending - it was a bit abrupt. Maybe Mr Courtenay didn't want to emphasize the details of Anna's withdrawal and recovery? Overall, though, I found it really educational since I was not well-versed in Australia's involvement with the Japanese in WW II. Great book!
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
There aren't many novels 28 hours long that can hold my rapt attention throughout. This one did. It is an epic saga of that catapults the reader through deep and abiding love, horrendous evil, world war and the afterward of that war. Set in the Pacific, (various island nations) prior to and during World War II, the story is centered on the impact of the Japanese invasion of Java and other nation islands. At its core is the plight of the Dutch who had previously invaded and controlled Java and specifically, the life of Anna, a girl of mixed Javanese and Dutch heritage; and Nick,an Australian butterfly collector who was on an expedition when the invasion by the Japanese was fomented.
"Nicholas" narrates the story in an easy-to-listen-to voice with an amazing down under accent. The various character voices used are memorable and wonderful throughout. Nicholas tells his story and then relates Anna's story as well. I loved the way their stories unfolded and intertwined and also how their lives separated before finally coming back together.
This is a worthy listen if ever there was one. For those who like relatable characters and novels that retrace history, this is a must. Highly recommended.
Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy
I put off listening to this book for quite a while due to the length. However, all the great reviews for author and narrator spurred me on to start it recently. It is an intriguing, highly enjoyable story with an unlikely hero, a young butterfly collector and his true love, an equally young half Dutch, half Indonesian girl. They have only known each other a few weeks before separating and having their own very different and intriguing story lines. Bower is a master at narrating different accents, and Courtnay really knows how to tell a story! What more could you ask for?
It is highly recommended.
Bryce Courtney's novels are favorites because his characters are never perfect, but perfectly flawed. I could listen to Humphrey Bower narrate the ingredients on a cereal box. He has just the right inflection humor, panic, masked emotion. He disappears into each character to the extent that I am usually surprised that there is only one narrator, by the end. Together, they weave wonderful audio experiences! Will listen to more of their collaborations.
Unfortunately, I felt this story was too long and drawn out. It just got boring after a while, even though it could have been much more exciting or suspenseful . . . or something. It’s a good story/plot but definitely not my Bryce Courtenay favorite.
I was disappointed with the quick ending which should have been the best part of the story if Courtenay had taken the time to write it! He leaves the ending implied, but what reader wants to interpret an ending you’ve been aiming towards after 28 hours? The ending was very unsatisfying and too abrupt. The focus of the entire book suddenly has no significance in the ending?
It is not a bad book though, and the narrator Humphrey Bower is fantastic, so it may be worth reading to many. Fans of Courtenay may love it. I did enjoy Courtenay’s “The Power of One” and “Brother Fish”.
This is the 4th BC novel I have read and the best - good characters and solid storyline. If you want an easy listen with a good yarn this is for you.
"A wonderful epic tale"
Yes - I preferred the Audible, It's a long, long book and it was lovely to have it read to me on my commute to work.
The heroine - courageous, clever, persistent, immensly brave - just loved her
No. But I did enjoy this - it needs an Australian voice, and he voiced the characters well, kept an appropriate pace.
An epic tale of love, courage, hardship and persistence
"classically brilliant Bryce Courtenay"
fantastic, invigorating, non stop, edge of your seat story. Can't wait to read the sequel.
"Ripping Story with great pace......however....."
I'm a recent convert to Bryce Courtenay books and this only the second book of his I've read. An amazing masterful pace and a thorough knowledge of the subject set against the background of the Japanese occupation of Java during the Second World War. This is something I knew little about prior to reading the book so, while shocked by the treatment of the Chinese, Javanese and Dutch, I came away from reading the book with a lot more knowledge of that era.
This is a beautiful love story and I was fascinated by Anna (Madame Butterfly's) story during the years of Japanese occupation and how she survived and came out psychologically scarred but physically intact from those years. I had a great respect for her.
Less so her faithless lover Nick, who barely waited weeks before falling in love with another woman and many subsequent women fell to his apparent charms throughout the remaining years of WW2 and his half hearted attempts at finding Anna after the war.
Quite frankly I started to dislike Nick immensely, not just for his annoying attraction to the opposite sex and their predatory sexual intentions towards him, his obsession with breasts but also his 'heroism' during the war which earned him honours, not just from Australian and British governments but also General McArthur and the American Marines. It all got a bit unrealistic.
To be honest, it really spoilt the story for me which was otherwise spotted with some brilliant characters which were superbly portrayed by the narrator Humphrey Bower, who should not go unmentioned in all this. A great piece of narration from him yet again even with the Japanese and American characters, make and female alike.
Altogether a great read, but Nick boy, calm it down a bit eh?
"good read,not for prudes"
Good story,extremely well narrated, but I was a bit put off by the 'blokey' bits - graphic details about the main character losing his virginity and heroic war exploits,details about killing, sado-masochism,and prostitution One for the boys.
"I loved this book!"
Interesting, sad, happy !
The story line was great, it was interesting, funny, sad, happy all in one book. The characters and story line were easy to follow.
I liked them all to be honest.
Too long for that which I liked. I listened to it while out with the dog, doing my ironing and just chilling.
First time I've written a review but this was definitely one of my favourite books.
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