Monthly Archives: December 2012

Book Review: The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay

Cannonball Read IV Review #74

I have never has as difficult a time reviewing The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay as I have any other book. It’s not because I hated it. In fact, I really, really enjoyed it (and let me just say that the many who reads all of Courtenay’s novels, Humphrey Bower, is a phenomenal reader – the best audiobook reader I’ve ever heard!), but just before I finished it, I got a text from my mom that was simple and to the point: “Bryce Courtenay died today.”

I first read The Power of One, his only book easily accessible in the United States, as a high school senior. During lunch time once a week, I’d spend an hour discussing the book for extra credit with my classmates and my fantastic South African English teacher, who is now the woman I call mom. She instilled in me a love for foreign authors, including Bryce Courtenay.

His books are impossibly hard to get in the US, however – or at least they were until I discovered the Book Depository. However, Audible carries most of his titles so I used one of my credits to get The Persimmon Tree, the story of lovers Nick and Anna, torn apart by WWII in the South Pacific. It’s a story of unending loving and of the strength of human emotions and Courtenay captured beautifully the terror of battle and the heartbreak of loving two women at the same time.

I don’t really have anything bad to say, probably because I have such fond memories of my time spend reading and listening to Courtenay novels. It had a lively, engaging, exciting plot, and it was especially great hearing it read because the characters were so unique and distinct. I enjoyed that it jumped around and the perspective of different characters came to light.

It is a classic Courtenay novel, in that there is a character (in this book Nick, in The Power of One Peekay) who is the underdog, yet still someone we love. These characters have fine morals and are really upstanding men. There is also someone who is discriminated against (here Til, in The Power of One Giel Peet) who meets with a shocking demise. Seriously. When Til had this terrible thing happen to him, I actually gasped out loud. And later on, I clapped when Anna and Nick are finally reunited.

It was a beautiful love story, and I’m sure its sequel, Fishing for Stars, will be just as good.

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