A long-time fan of Bryce Courtenay, I found myself enthralled in this book, a sequel to The Persimmon Tree. It continues the tale of Nick Duncan, Anna Til, and Marg Hamilton, whose love triangle of sorts weaves its way through the novel at various points. Nick and Anna are together just after the War, still trying to come to terms with where their lives have taken them. Anna is severely addicted to heroin and unable to shake it. She tries to get Nick to understand her plight, as well as other issues that may take their toll of this burgeoning relationship. Anna has been able to make a name for herself with a number of male bondage houses, something that she learned while a Japanese prisoner of war. As her success mounts, Nick is able to work on his own businesses, which include a salvage and shipping company to serve the Pacific Islands. When Anna is kidnapped, Nick returns to Japan to find her, allying himself with a Japanese mafioso leader, whose love of butterflies rivals few in the world. While a plan is made, Nick finds himself in a heap of trouble, thinking only after the fact about the danger in which he puts himself. While he is able to get Anna out, relatively unscathed, it is only later that he realises how independent she is and what rash actions he seems to have taken. Knowing that Marg Hamilton—an old flame of Nick’s during the war—is newly widowed, Nick and Anna come up with an agreement, to sharpen the edges of this love triangle in the oddest manner. As things switch towards Marg, the reader learns much about her passions living in Tasmania and how ecological politics soon become her passion. Marg sets her sights on helping Australia keep its ‘green’ footprint, though it will be tough. Nick is forced to balance between her advocacy and the actions Anna is undertaking in his own business world, sure to set the two women on a path of destruction before long. It will be up to Nick to determine how he ought to handle what is sure to be the fight of his life. Another masterful Bryce Courtenay novel that takes the reader on an epic journey. Recommended to those who love long and slow-developing stories, as well as the reader who has a great interest in all things Bryce Courtenay.
Bryce Courtenay is surely one of few authors whose books I could read repeatedly and never complain. While I surely read this book over a decade ago, I remember little, making this read all the more exciting. There is much to digest in a story so full of detail. As with the first book, the story flows so well that the length of the story becomes less a hurdle and more an adventure to overcome. Nick plays a great protagonist yet again, keeping all aspects of the story tied tightly together. He finds himself in the middle of so much throughout this piece and keeps the story moving onward. Courtenay uses Nick as the omnipotent narrator, but also a key player in the lives of both women, showing much of his development through the actions they undertake. Anna Til shows that she is a sharp-witted woman throughout the piece, carrying two of her health concerns throughout the book, though never letting them rule her choices, to a degree. Anna has a passion for business and can turn a situation to her favour, either through mental acuity or the power of persuasion that she possesses. The reader will see a nice contrast here with what she has done in the first book and likely enjoy the different, as well as some similarities. Marg, who played a minor role throughout the first novel, takes her place here and has a masterful story to tell, one in which the reader will such much progression. She is able to spin quite the web and keep the reader (and Nick) on their toes throughout. Her development is effectively accomplished on her own, though Nick surely does influence her from time to time. Other characters who grace the pages of this book add different flavours to a stunning narrative. Courtenay paints his picture so well with the different sub-plots, leaving the reader in awe while asking for more. The story was amazingly detailed and provided a view of post-War Asia and its development throughout regional independence. There is so much history embedded within the masterfully crafted narrative, which opens the door to so much interpretation. While I would not normally take the time to comment on audiobook narration, the work by Humphrey Bower here was some of the best I have ever had the privilege to hear. I have listened to the audiobook renditions of all Courtenay books and Bower takes the lead in almost all of them, bringing accents to life and narrative passages to a new level of understanding. While I know some people prefer holding a book (or e-book), I cannot say enough about the audio versions of Courtenay’s work! I was so pleased with the stories and themes developed throughout this piece.
Kudos, Mr. Courtenay, for dazzling me yet again as I devoured this book.
This book fulfils Topic #1: Sweat and Read in the Equinox #9 Reading Challenge.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons