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The Persimmon Tree Audiobook

The Persimmon Tree

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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 Rating

4.4 (2210 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Pamela Bigfork, Montana 10-01-15
    Pamela Bigfork, Montana 10-01-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Historical Soap Opera"

    I wish I like this book more. I purchased both this one and the "Power of One" as they sound perfect for me. Both share many of the same strengths and weaknesses.

    The story is well told and cohesive, albeit far-fetched and often over-the-top dependent on coincidence. The narrator presents himself as modest and lucky, but it does not take long to determine that he is a figment of a juvenile imagine. No 17-year-old boy is consistently the sex-object of all desirable women, an expert at everything he puts his hand to, superior to trained experts in the arts and sciences of most everything, and lucky beyond credulity.

    Other reviewers have noted the complete lack of nuance and subtlety in this book. Traits and actions presented as unacceptable in an "bad" individual are passed over when exhibited by a "good" person. Characters do not develop over the course of the 7 years covered. There are very mixed signals of racial and sexual bias and discrimination, almost as if the author could not decide whether to reflect the standards of the time or to show that he is an enlightened man of the 21st century.

    Finally, this is a very long book with a medium length book struggling to get out. Whole sections could be cut and not leave the book any less engaging or coherent. I generally like long books but by the end of this one (listened to over 5 days), I had my fill of Nick and his charmed life. Anna's sections are more closely written and did not to my ear have the same tiresome faux-humble presentation as the "Nick" portions.

    The reader does a good job overall. He does have quite distinct voices for each of the characters and only very occasionally fails to use the right one. Some of the voices struck me as a bit too stereo-typed but that could be due as much to the writing as the reading.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianna Cleveland Mead, WA, US 06-02-15
    Marianna Cleveland Mead, WA, US 06-02-15 Member Since 2006
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    "Will it ever end??"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I know that the subject is a hard one, but oh my land............I kept wondering how long this book would continue on. I actually could not finish it even though I wanted to know what happened to the characters. Just had to stop listening.


    What could Bryce Courtenay have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Not truelly sure. I think there was too much time spent on the subject of the book and not enough on the story line.


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

    I have and I have loved them. That was the reason I was looking forward to this book. But it was just too harsh and too much and way too long.


    Did The Persimmon Tree inspire you to do anything?

    Stop listening. I know that sounds harsh......but I'm being truthful.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't listen unless you are ready to go into a world not necessary.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl 09-15-14
    Cheryl 09-15-14 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Formulaic"
    What did you like best about The Persimmon Tree? What did you like least?

    After having read several of Courtenay's novels I concluded that he had developed a formula that became very pronounced in this book: An unlikely hero humbly ambles through one (often unbelievable) adventure after another. Always self deprecating, our hero consistently wonders why he is being awarded medals, women, riches, etc. that he insists he doesn't deserve.

    I also did not like the treatment of the female characters in the novel. They are flat and predictable. Courtenay's mothers are always the same crochety, auto-didactic crone, the love interests (and there are many in this book) are equally anticipated: they are beautiful, intelligent, hard-to-get, but are always willingly (and sometimes manipulatively) conquered by our humble hero. It was particularly funny to me that all of the female characters who meet our hero fall in love and manage to "service" him EXCEPT the main love interest, Anna, who even after living through the Japanese occupation of Java, manages to remain a virgin until she is around twenty-six years old (and a heroine addict who owns a "brothel") and is reunited with our hero. Yeah, right.

    Another problem with the book is its redundancy. Courtenay repeats himself frequently.This book was written when the author was seventy-four years old. Listening to it was like listening to the fantasies of an old man. If you want to really enjoy Bryce Courtenay at his best, listen to the Power of One and Tandia or The Potato Factory Trillogy.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I have all of Bryce Courtenay's books on my wish list and have already listened to half of them (there are several). I will probably listen to the others because, in the end, Courtenay tells a good story, and the history he covers is very interesting. Also, his books are long, and I love really long audio books. But for now, I need a break so I am finishing the Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko. After that I will listen to A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini.


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

    Humphrey Bower is a good reader who is capable of a range of accents and voice levels, however he uses the same voices for each ethnic character he tackles. He used the same black American accent for both the character of Jimmy in Brother Fish and Joe in The Persimmon Tree. Courtenay constantly rails against racism in his books, but his writing contradicts the message as his characters embody unflattering stereotypes. Adding to the problem, the characters in The Persimon Tree were particularly flat. Once you've listened to several of Bower's readings of Courtenay's books the issue becomes annoying.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    If you haven't read this one, don't bother. While the historical aspects are interesting, the story is ridiculous.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Mora 12-28-13
    Joan Mora 12-28-13
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    "Tragic story, masterfully written"
    Any additional comments?

    The Persimmon Tree is a sweeping drama about a young Australian butterfly collector in Batavia (Jakarta) who falls in love with an exotic beauty. Separated by circumstances in the Pacific at the onset of World War II, he sails to Australia, but their plans to meet there fail and he spends the next several years searching for her. It was a stunningly written story made even more so by Humphrey Bower's gorgeous narrating.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Freeland, WA, United States 09-28-13
    Rachel Freeland, WA, United States 09-28-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Amazing story, amazing reader!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Persimmon Tree the most enjoyable?

    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!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It has to be Anna but Til (spelling?) is a second!


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

    The characters' voices! He is so talented - there is no way to fully appreciate a book like this by simply reading it.


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

    I can't think of anything that wouldn't sound trite - it is well-named.


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 08-01-13
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 08-01-13 Member Since 2017
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    "A Fabulous Historical Novel - Not to Be Missed!"

    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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shirley 09-25-17
    Shirley 09-25-17 Member Since 2013
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    "Beautifully written and filled with intrigue"
    If you could sum up The Persimmon Tree in three words, what would they be?

    Amazing story about life and survival in the most unbelievable circumstances with historical information no wonderful characters


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip Michael Dyck San Jose, CA United States 09-05-17
    Philip Michael Dyck San Jose, CA United States 09-05-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Best Ever Book"
    What made the experience of listening to The Persimmon Tree the most enjoyable?

    This book transported me everyday to a place like no other book has. Bryce Courtenay the greatest story teller and Humphrey Bower captivating narrator.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Garvin Arlington, TX USA 08-11-17
    Steve Garvin Arlington, TX USA 08-11-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Wonderful story - incredible narration!"

    Enjoyed the story immensely. The attention to historical detail and development of characters made the story open up in your mind. Probably the best narration I've ever heard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hilary G. 04-16-17
    Hilary G. 04-16-17
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    5
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    "Thoughts on The Persimmon Tree"

    A love story, bringing the world to the villages of the South Pacific spanning WW II. Extensively researched, excellent and entertaining character development, wonderfully interwoven facets of a melting pot of cultures, their similarities and differences, full of light and darkness, irony and humor, this book touches on many important aspects of humanity. All delivered by an engaging reader, making this a first rate recorded book, a pleasure to 'read.'

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Paddy
    4/18/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "engrossing tale, spellbindingly narrated"

    Having read and absolutely loved the Power of One as a kid, I am belatedly only now getting to explore the rest of Courtenay's back catalogue. Tandia was fabulous, but this is an altogether more rich and articulate novel, with superbly crafted storytelling and beautiful character development. To have it narrated by such a master as Bower lifts it to another plane altogether. His range and reliability of accents is superb and his expression and timing brings each emotion to life as if you are truly in the skin of each protagonist. If there weren't a sequel for me to start enjoying straight away, I would surely start listening all over again, from those first evenings in the bar in Batavia.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Valerie
    11/24/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "enjoyed thoroughly"

    Couldn't put it down. Beautiful story entertained with history and interesting facts.
    The narrator is fantastic, beautiful accents which fit the characters,. both male and female.
    Recommend

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • C
    Ipswich, United Kingdom
    3/8/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fragmented story"
    Would you listen to The Persimmon Tree again? Why?

    Probably not. There were parts of the story that dragged on too long


    What did you like best about this story?

    There were interesting insights into a side of WW2 that are not often told and whilst I am interested in the subject matter to an extent, I found the in depth detail of the Japanese sexual perversions tedious


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    It was a good story, but the intricate details of Anna's training went on too long for me.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The narrator was fine.


    Any additional comments?

    It was a compelling story, but it just dwelt too much on Anna for my liking.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Maggie Stanger
    2/19/16
    Overall
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    Story
    "A great listen."

    Although the story dealt with some difficult subjects it was never depressing. I liked the lead characters and was keen to find out what happened to them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Miss
    Stourbridge, United Kingdom
    12/1/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved it."
    Would you listen to The Persimmon Tree again? Why?

    Yes to pick up on things that i might have missed.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    All they interlink and cant have one without the others.


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

    His narrative style is excellent, switches from character to character with ease.


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

    He prayed over the soldiers.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sharon Frater
    Cheshire England
    8/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thoroughly enjoyable"
    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed this but especially loved Anna's story. Not quite sure about the ending but overall quite memorable and a good reminder of just how bad the war was and how evil people can be. Will certainly read more of this author

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Debbie Bram
    8/9/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One that will stay with me "

    What a book, evoked every emotion. A skilled author and engaging narrator. Historically researched, interwoven beautifully, couldn't wait to return to my listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Linden
    BROMLEY, United Kingdom
    4/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful wide-ranging story"

    What an enjoyable book. A deep insight into what happened in the war in that part of the world, and a fascinating look at Japanese culture. Thoroughly believable characters, who live with me still. Loved the narration. At times I did get slightly bored with the somewhat self-indulgent typical male author wallowing in the sex and the physically perfect characters, plus the attitude that it is fine and natural for a male to sew their wild oats all they like! But overall a wonderful read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lipo
    2/15/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gripping listening, less than great writng"

    Humphrey Bower's performance was, as always, suburb, and kept me listening, and finally gripped by the story. This was well researched and interesting both from the historical perspective of the War years and the experiences of the heroine, Anna, at the hands of the Japanese in Java. Anna's story was by far the most engrossing, so much so that the book seemed rather to flag when the narrative returns to the oh-so handsome, brave, well-endowed and modest Nick. Many times I rolled my eyes at Nick's (the narrator's) hackneyed descriptions of 'lovely' women and what they did to his anatomy. sometimes he had the grace to apologise for a cliche, but not often enough! It was this aspect of the writing - downright soppy and sloppy at times - that almost persuaded me to give up listening. I'm glad I didn't. My favourite characters were Kevin and, especially, Till.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ian
    Eaton, United Kingdom
    2/13/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good Yarn"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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