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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping saga from Bryce Courtenay, Australia's most popular author.

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    1,397
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    799
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    69
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Performance

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Katrinka
  • Medina, WA, United States
  • 05-05-13

a long story you never want to end

Would you listen to The Persimmon Tree again? Why?

I will listen to this book again because I couldn't absorb all the really fascinating details within the book one time around.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Persimmon Tree?

...the twist and turns about prejudice in a small village during WW2 in the Phillipines and how it is acted out.

Who was the most memorable character of The Persimmon Tree and why?

Nick the main character, was most memorable. He is the "narrator" and is a young guy having totally new life experiences; how he views them is so fun to read.

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  • Cindy
  • Burnsville, MN, United States
  • 04-25-13

Enchanting

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Nick found his father.

Any additional comments?

Wonderful Courtenay! Enchanting story, the detail of Japanese tradition is superb. I can't wait to find out what happens to Nick and Anna.

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Wonderful!!!!!

Would you listen to The Persimmon Tree again? Why?

I loved this book. Bryce Courtenay has a remarkable story to tell and he does it with such depth and clarity that you feel the characters are a part of your life. The story is so well written and read, I would listen to it again just to hear Humphrey Bower. Mr. Bower has the exceptional ability to bring you right into the story with each character. It is as if you are there. The story's interspersed subtle humor is just enough to for you to find yourself smiling, but when the tide turns you are engrossed in the moment and feel the character's pain. I will definitely read Mr. Courtenay again and listen to Mr. Bower read.

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GOOD BUT LONG!

Before all else I must say that Humphrey Bower does a stupendous job in narrating this +600 page book. I only have praise for Mr. Bower’s ability and the many different accents he effortlessly juggles throughout this story of two would-be lovers during the Second World War. Nicholas Duncan is the son of an Australian missionary who has spent most of his career in Japan and Indonesia. Anna van Heerden is the daughter of a rich Dutch land owner and a Javanese woman. Their story begins in Java and covers a large period, including the period when the Dutch controlled Java to the time when the Javanese kicked the Dutch out and Japan stepped in as that country's new ruler.

If you like history then you will find this book to be very interesting as Courtenay has done his research well and intertwined his story with numerous historic facts. That being said, there is no mistake that this is fiction because the main characters are just too good. Nick's story gets a bit tiresome because everything good happens to him. He seems to possess exceptional knowledge, which is surpassed only by his even better physical skills, and with very little going wrong Nick practically wins the war in the Islands...apparently on his own. Anna's story on the other hand is sad. She is unable to escape Java and she suffers much tragedy. Although she has money and a group of devoted friends, these are not enough to protect her. She is left to fend for herself, ultimately becoming a special, 'skilled' form of entertainment for a Japanese Colonel, Konoe-san. The idea that Nick and Anna's love of only a few days could last, let alone overcome numerous years of separation, particularly after we learn of Nick's subsequent behavior, seems more unlikely than likely.

I enjoyed the supporting characters. The Indonesians are well detailed, especially Til, the Tuk Tuk driver who befriends and continues to help Anna. The American sailor, Kevin Judge, is another memorable character. Kevin is rescued by Nick after he is found unconscious on the beach. They sail to Australia, a harrowing journey in any scenario, and theirs becomes a strong and everlasting friendship. Nick continues to enjoy good fortune but he never gives up the search for his beloved Anna.

Yes this book is long and no, it is not for everyone but if you have the patience, if you are looking for attention to detail and if you like historic novels of the WWII subject matter then this is a good audiobook for you.

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A favorite audio book

Would you listen to The Persimmon Tree again? Why?

Yes, both the performance and the story make it worth a second listen.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved this narrative-driven story. I also listened to the second book in the series (Fishing for Stars), but I liked The Persimmon Tree better. The experiences the characters go through are beyond my imagination and always fascinating. Plus, the romantic situations are so beautifully written without being sappy.

Which character – as performed by Humphrey Bower – was your favorite?

The characters of Anna and Nick are both my favorites. Humphrey Bower really gives life to the main characters and the story.

Who was the most memorable character of The Persimmon Tree and why?

Anna is memorable because of how she handles a chain of difficult situations in a way that is mature beyond her years. At the same time, she is clearly vulnerable and will have to deal with what happens during the war for the rest of her life.

Any additional comments?

I've listened to more audio books since this one, but so far The Persimmon Tree is still my favorite.

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  • Nicole
  • Fort Worth, TX, United States
  • 03-24-13

Great narration and epic story!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Persimmon Tree to be better than the print version?

In this case yes. Thouroughly enjoyed the narration. Character voices very plausible, even across genders.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Anna. Her story resonated with me and I was almost instantly invested in her journey.

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

no.

If you could rename The Persimmon Tree, what would you call it?

wouldnt rename it. after understanding the definition of the persimmon tree, the title was very fitting.

Any additional comments?

Was disappointed in the rapid closure at the end, especially related to Anna. Would have like further description of her recovery and well being.

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  • Daryl
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • 03-20-13

Wonderful

Where does The Persimmon Tree rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of the best.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending was good

Which character – as performed by Humphrey Bower – was your favorite?

Nicholas

If you could take any character from The Persimmon Tree out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Anna, such a strong person.

Any additional comments?

Loved the book and would recommend it

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Engaging WWII Down Under drama, romance, action...

Am still living with Nick Duncan, Anna (Madame Butterfly) lingering in my thoughts and wish this novel was a trilogy, too. Invite these characters into your listening life and try to get them out of your mind....so far, they're still alive and well on my daily walk. Almost impossible to listen to another book as I wanted this one to never end...

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  • sharon
  • GRAND RAPIDS, MI, United States
  • 03-07-13

Absolutely wonderful!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I loved reading The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. As I was looking for a new audio book, I found The Persimmon Tree. What a wonderful story! The narration and characters voices by Humphrey Bower were outstanding. I was sad when the story finished.

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  • P
  • St Ives, Australia
  • 03-04-13

A Fortunate Life

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Bryce Courtney tells a wonderful story.He is the King of Storytellers but why does he make his characters so extreme in qualities. His women are the most beautiful,the men so brave,so intelligent. They do like James Bond take on incredible challenges and survive unscathed. He also makes assumptions which I find annoying.However the story manages to hold my interest and the non stop tension is maintained throughout the book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Persimmon Tree?

There are many memorable moments but perhaps the greatest impact was the head of the Tuk Tuk driver Til impaled on a post by the gate was the most wrenching. Finding the Japanese Radio operater in the jungle and the unusual and totally unexpected reactions of the captured man was memorable but really stretched credibility.Still it was a nice touch amid all the horror of war.

Which character – as performed by Humphrey Bower – was your favorite?

Til the Tuk Tuk driver was a wonderful and well developed character.It was easy to relate to this gentle and wise man. His relationship with Anna was a highlight of the book.

Did The Persimmon Tree inspire you to do anything?

No not at all. I found it very entertaining but far from inspirational. I found the historical context very interesting and hope to do some more research regarding the development of Indonesia.

Any additional comments?

Again I am impressed by the amount of research needed to write this book. I learnt some very interesting facts about the Pacific war.