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Publisher's Summary

The four fires in this story are passion, religion, warfare, and fire itself. While there are many more fires that drive the human spirit, love being perhaps the brightest flame of all, it is these four that have moulded us most as Australian people. The four fires give us our sense of place and, for better or for worse, shape our national character.

©2013 Christine Courtenay; 2010 Bryce Courtenay (P)2008 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Humphrey Bower, speaking as Mole, delivers every possible nuance and emotion of his character’s story, and shows a startling aptitude for other dialects as well. Close family friends and enemies include surviving Polish Jews, an East Indian healer, an Irish Catholic priest, Japanese prison camp soldiers, and many others. All of them, young and old, male and female, spring to vivid life in Bower’s versatile voice. Narrative passages and dialogue elicit tears and laughter by turns, without a minute of boredom in the 30-hour production." ( AudioFile magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alifa
  • Jerusalem, Israel
  • 03-11-13

Bryce Courtenay: Four Fires

I only recently heard of this author, alas, when he passed away. One thing that impresses me about him is that his writing career developed late in life, which can be an advantage, as an author then brings a lot of experience and wisdom to his work. Clearly he loves Australia, and has a deep understanding of how its people and environment "work" together.
Four Fires tells the story of the poor but extremely hardworking Malony's. It is told in the voice of Mole, the young son of Tommy, a war-damaged former POW of the Japanese, and Nancy, the plain-spoken and determined mother. The story is quite complex and follows the careers of all the Maloney children as a great Family Saga kind of story. What makes it of special interest to me was seeing how subtly the author showed how Mole grew to maturity, eventually coming to a greater understanding of his father's life and genuine good points, even though as a child he mostly thought of him as the village drunk and petty criminal. This is a story about love -- the kind that lasts through very hard times and bitter disappointment, not just for individuals but for communities. It's about people helping each other in surprising ways. It is, perhaps, about an era that is passing away as communities change so rapidly, but I am very, very glad that Bryce Courtenay caught that particular post-World War II moment.
A word about the reader: his Australian accent was not overwhelming and contributed to the story. If he had problems pronouncing the spattering of Yiddish words (one of the important characters is a Jewish refugee doctor) it is easily forgiven, for we are seeing life through the eyes of Mole, and he may well not have quite heard the words right, either.
This was a work that was hard to leave off until its end. It definitely encourages me to read other books by Courtenay.

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Very enjoyable

Any additional comments?

The reading of this was excellent, and certainly enhanced the experience. I came to realize what people meant when they criticized the book for everything always working out just right. The characters were extremely likable, and they weren't without their share of sometimes intense problems, but I actually found myself a few times wishing the author didn't have to make everything so neat and sweet.

The range of experiences covered and the fact that everyone was indeed so likable made this a great read in itself, but also a good antidote to the experience I feel I often have where I'm like, "Does everything have to always NOT work out?"

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  • Christine
  • TIGARD, OR, United States
  • 03-04-13

Heartwarming story, beatifully read

What made the experience of listening to Four Fires the most enjoyable?

The reader really gave life to each character and situation

What was one of the most memorable moments of Four Fires?

How the character, stength and determination of the mother gave each child the courage to forge their own life

Have you listened to any of Humphrey Bower’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Who was the most memorable character of Four Fires and why?

I would have trouble chosing between the mother and Mole. But as the narrator, Mole's special ability to empathize with the people in his life, creates a tale of real depth.

Any additional comments?

I hope other Bryce Courtenay books have been recorded and that Humphrey Bower is the reader.

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Very Good, Not Great

What made the experience of listening to Four Fires the most enjoyable?

As usual, the partnership between Courtenay and Bower is fantastic.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Most of the Characters are very well done. This difference between this novel and The Power of One or even Tandia is that there are many characters followed over a generation. Maybe too many. In those previous books there was one main character - Peekay - and many supplementary ones. In Four Fires there are many main characters. The characters are well developed, but we don't fall in love with them like we do Peekay.

What does Humphrey Bower bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He's the best in the business.

Who was the most memorable character of Four Fires and why?

Tommy. Finding out how the war changed him was brutal.

Any additional comments?

Absolutely worth the read, but not on the level of The Power of One.

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  • Andrea
  • Chapel Hill, NC, United States
  • 03-02-13

Great performance

Would you consider the audio edition of Four Fires to be better than the print version?

The performance was excellent. I think if I had been reading it, I may have wanted some editing!

What other book might you compare Four Fires to and why?

yes

Which scene was your favorite?

yes, by introducing so many interesting topic

If you could rename Four Fires, what would you call it?

nothing

Any additional comments?

Like four books in one

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An all time,all time favorite.

Would you listen to Four Fires again? Why?

Great story juiced by a superlative narrator

What other book might you compare Four Fires to and why?

Any of Cornwell's Sharpe's series

Which scene was your favorite?

Too hard to answer

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

My wife cried (also laughed)

Any additional comments?

Got to find more

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  • DIANE
  • Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada
  • 02-04-13

Comes together after all

Where does Four Fires rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I'd have to rate it somewhere in the middle in terms of the books I've read by Bryce Courtenay. It got off to a very slow start, but ultimately, the development of the "four fires", the four siblings and their life stories, came through. Each character was developed with Mr. Courtenay's special style, and overall, the story had great appeal.

What other book might you compare Four Fires to and why?

Many of Mr. Courtenay's books have some element of the ravages of war in them, and this one is no different. The notion of following four separate people and how their lives developed was somewhat unique and i can't think of any book to compare it to in general terms.

What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

I especially liked his rendition of Morry Suckfizzle, the doctor who survived the holocaust.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I can't say I had an extreme reaction to the book as I did with some of Bryce's other books. But once it got going, I was anxious to continue and find out what would happen.

Any additional comments?

I love Mr. Courtenay's character developments in general and always get swept away into the story of his books. I am sad that once I finish the last book, that will be it. He was a very talented writer and I will miss him a lot.

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  • John
  • Birmingham, Al.
  • 01-26-13

extraordinary in every respect

I have listened to hundreds of books from Audible but the narrator of this book is the best I have ever listened to bar none. Great writing and great narration equals a truly delightful experience.

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Superb!

Another fantastic story by the awesome Courtenay-Bower couple! I didn't think I could fall in love with another cast of characters the way I did with those from The Power of One and Tandia, but Four Fires proved me pleasantly wrong! This is the story of a most amazing family as they journey through a challenging life and face it head on unashamedly. This is a long book that is such a delight to listen to. There are some difficult sections, difficult because of the account of Australian POW's during the 2nd World War not because of the writing, but this I found educational. Courtenay's attention to detail is astounding and I truly enjoyed a book about a different land, history and people which is written with depth, feeling and insight.

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  • Margaret
  • Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
  • 01-21-13

Great

Good listen with interesting info on Australia and WW2. Humphrey Bower's is a great narrator