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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as 'The Power of One'
Wonderful story. I had become somewhat disillusioned with Bryce Courtenay over the past few years. Brother Fish, Whitethorn and Sylvia were all average reads. For this reason, I hesitated in buying 'The Persimmon Tree'. I was seduced by the cover however, and luckily so. The Persimmon Tree is as fine a novel as 'The Power of One'. It combines history, evocative...
Published on November 17, 2007 by Kate Ahmad

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In dire need of good editing... **SPOILERS**
The Persimmon Tree started out with a lot of promise. The prose is good, the dialogue is decent. The parts leading up to the war and all through the hazardous sailing trip to Australia are convincing and promise great things to come. I even liked the first part of Anna's story. The ship scenes are all very vivid and believable, and her character really comes alive. Bryce...
Published on November 12, 2010 by AprilMay


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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as 'The Power of One', November 17, 2007
By 
This review is from: The Persimmon Tree (Hardcover)
Wonderful story. I had become somewhat disillusioned with Bryce Courtenay over the past few years. Brother Fish, Whitethorn and Sylvia were all average reads. For this reason, I hesitated in buying 'The Persimmon Tree'. I was seduced by the cover however, and luckily so. The Persimmon Tree is as fine a novel as 'The Power of One'. It combines history, evocative surroundings and an engaging storyline. It was also quite unique aside from the heroine's 'violet eyes' which were reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha!
For both the literary snob and the average reader, I think this book will provide satisfaction.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Start to Finish, February 22, 2010
This review is from: The Persimmon Tree (Hardcover)
As a previous reviewer wrote, I too had become somewhat disenchanted with Bryce Courtenay over the past few years. I thoroughly enjoyed The Power of One and Jessica (the first two Courtenay novels I'd read), but was increasingly disappointed as I made my way though Tandia, Matthew Flinders' Cat and Sylvia. As you probably know, Bryce Courtenay books are not quick reads. They are thick (in many cases, upwards of 800+ pages), the font is small-- and if you're going to read them, you are making a huge time commitment. So when I saw The Persimmmon Tree in the library, I was hesitant to delve into it. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised.

The story begins during 1942 when Nicholas Duncan meets the beautiful Anna van Heerden in the Dutch occupied East Indies. Six weeks after they meet, they are forced to seperate as the Japanese invading forces press closer to the islands each day. Nick sails to Australia, and joins the Allied WWII forces, while Anna (who is half Dutch) struggles to survive in the East Indies under the Japanese occupation.

I loved Anna's story. I loved her tenacity, resilience and resorcefulness. Like many of Courtenay's characters, Anna does not emerge from the war unscathed. Her story was intense and intricate, even (in some places) appalling. However, her character remains determined, generous and strong.

Although I found Nick's story to be less compelling, I nonetheless enjoyed reading about his adventures (and misadventures).

As I approached page 800/840, I started to become uneasy with how Courtney would end the book. Courtney has several novels that end in an abrupt (and in my opinion), unsatisfactory manner. Thankfully (as you can probably tell from my five-star rating) I was content with the conclusion that Courtney chose for the Persimmon Tree. Perhaps next time I won't be so hesitant to pick up another of his novels!

I hope others enjoy this story as much as I did!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read!, October 21, 2009
This review is from: The Persimmon Tree (Hardcover)
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. A plot that thunders along from page one, filled with wonderful characters (I fell in love with the girl with the violet eyes) and fascinating detail. The description of the boat journey to Australia, the Japanese invasion, the Americans and the Australians during WW2 ... wow!

I read it like one possessed, found it hard to put down, despite the fact that it is so thick you need to hold it in both hands and support it on something or your arms start to tremble.

My only complaint is that the paperback version was obviously not proof-read before publication because it is absolutely loaded with typos and formatting errors. It is so bad it looks like a self-published book. Come on, this book deserves better. Courtenay, if I was you, I would complain. The paperback publisher has made a hash of your beautiful work.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In dire need of good editing... **SPOILERS**, November 12, 2010
This review is from: The Persimmon Tree (Hardcover)
The Persimmon Tree started out with a lot of promise. The prose is good, the dialogue is decent. The parts leading up to the war and all through the hazardous sailing trip to Australia are convincing and promise great things to come. I even liked the first part of Anna's story. The ship scenes are all very vivid and believable, and her character really comes alive. Bryce had full command of his story and pacing up until we left Anna's story to return to Nick's.

***SPOILERS***

And then.... the story just got long and drawn-out.

If the first part of the novel was committed to convincing us that the two leads really did fall madly, deeply, and irrevocably in love in the span of a few weeks, the second part (at least of Nick's story-line) seems committed to convincing us otherwise.

Nick's story from the time he lands in Australia to the end of the war is just one big string of romantic conquests on Nick's part, peppered here and there with his war missions.

Not to mention how unbelievably BORING Nick's story is. I mean, come on, he's IN THE WAR. The most dangerous thing that happens to him is that a group of Japanese soldiers run at him in the heat of battle at one point. But Nick is so super-human that the reader is never really given a chance to FEEL like there's any danger. Nick takes care of things pretty quickly.

Every woman he meets is beautiful beyond compare, highly intelligent, reasonable, and accommodating. They each flutter into Nick's life like perfect butterflies, one after the other, flit around for a little while, and then leave it again, having caused not one disturbance in Nick's complacent existence in the meantime.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe that it's realistic to have Nick pursuing other romantic interests... He doesn't even know if Anna is still alive, and it's just human nature. But each woman is picturesque, both in looks AND personality. There is no fighting, no crying, or storming away. No conflict whatsoever. So we, the readers, are left to read chapter after chapter of his boring interactions with them. Interactions, mind you, that serve NO purpose in the story other than to lend dubious realism. They don't add suspense, they don't further the plot. They don't aid in the development of Nick's character.

On the contrary, Nick entered the story already perfect. The only area in which he grew at all in this story was the sexual arena. The only area in which he does not excel, from the very start of the story, is sex. His character grows there, but that's about it. He doesn't learn more about the human condition, reevaluate his views on life, or even really spend much time analyzing his relationship with the dad we're told to believe he's so intent on rescuing.

We just follow him around watching him flirt with a catholic virgin, hold hands with a 1-dimensional nurse, and go dancing with an inconsequential girl who we KNOW he won't end up with, all of whom offer us NOTHING of interest.

Especially when contrasted against what ANNA was having to endure during this same time period, Nick's story just seems so... trivial.

And the ending... it's just so underwhelming after all the build up. The entire novel is based on the assumption that we, the readers, are invested in Nick and Anna's relationship, on their eventually finding each other again. So Courtenay drags us through endless pages of Nick's boring romantic liaisons and less-than-dramatic war missions only to end the book with the most underwhelming reunion I've ever seen.

Anna doesn't seem happy AT ALL to see Nick. And why did she never search for him after the war? I understand that she was ashamed of the fact that she was addicted to heroin... but the kind of love Courtenay tried to convince us they had should have overcome that shame. It's very inconsistent. And it's never addressed in the book.

Overall, it was a decent read, and I love long novels because I'm a fast reader, so I give it 3 stars. It lost 2 stars for the poor editing and slopping ending.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtenay's Persimmon Tree Audio, January 28, 2009
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This review is from: The Persimmon Tree (MP3 CD)
After having read the wonderful Potato Factory trilogy by this Australian author, I'm thrilled to find another lengthy epic that is very enthralling
from its opening. Bryce Courtenay's books are hard to find in the U.S. and
especially audio. Thanks, Amazon for coming through once again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Persimmon Tree, December 29, 2010
This review is from: The Persimmon Tree (Hardcover)
This is a fantastic book, the first Bryce Courtenay I read. I have since read The Power of One, Tandia, the three books of the Australia Trilogy, and Persimmon's sequel, Fishing For Stars. Actually, i listened to all of them as audio books, and... WOW! I have been listening to audio books for several years now, and i am VERY particular about narrators. I can tell in the earliest moments of a book if the narrator is going to satisfy or annoy me. As far as i'm concerned, i've been fortunate to have found some of the best, and Humphrey Bower ranks in my top 3. Absolutely brilliant, with the rare talent of transporting you absolutely into the story... But back to Bryce: he is a fantastic writer. I love almost all of his stories, and highly recommend this one. The sequel, Fishing for Stars, however, was a disappointment, exactly as other reviewers said. I got through it, but would not recommend it. To me it dragged and just didn't have the magic, suck-you-in quality of The Persimmon Tree. I only wish Bryce had more Kindle titles. I was surprised to only find a few. My only hesitation in recommending Bryce to every & anyone is the violence present in most of his stories. It's real-world violence, and not gratuitous at all, but i know some individuals who would have a hard time with it. Bryce vividly captures and describes the darkness in human nature, and it can be disturbing, particularly for women who have been raped or sexually abused. But i still wholeheartedly recommend this and the other books already mentioned above...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A killer and a lover", September 26, 2010
By 
This review is from: The Persimmon Tree (Audible Audio Edition)
When you read a novel by best-selling Australian author Bryce Courtenay, you're signing on for a big, big book with a panoramic approach to its subject, which is generally historical in nature. Most of Courtenay's books are set in Australia, though some, including his first novel The Power of One (the best-selling Australian book by any living author) are set in his native country, South Africa.

The Persimmon Tree follows the Courtenay pattern of a highly self-sufficient main character facing great adversity. Nick Duncan is a 17-year-old Australian butterfly collector, taking an ill-advised butterfly-hunting vacation in Java in early 1942. The Japanese troops are tearing through the Pacific Islands, unchecked by the British; as they bear down on the Dutch East Indies, the indigenous Javanese are eager to throw their lot in with their own race after 350 years of economic and eventually political dominion by the Netherlands, and the well-fed, indolent Dutch troops are not poised to offer any real resistance. So it's a bad time for a white man to linger in Batavia.

Nick is befriended by a Dutch merchant who wants his yacht sailed out of Java for safety. Nick meets and falls in love with the merchant's beautiful, violet-eyed daughter, Anna, who is half Javanese, and they pledge their love with a commitment that transcends youth and innocence. Nick sets out across the Indian Ocean for Western Australia and on the way witnesses a Japanese atrocity that haunts him throughout the story; he also picks up a wounded American sailor from Chicago. The two men form a deep connection on the voyage.

The middle half of the book tells the story of Anna's war, stranded in Java. Her own horrors are a microcosm of civilian wartime suffering in occupied lands. Can she survive her trials--and more to the point, what will be the damage to her spirit?

Returning to Nick's story, Courtenay places his brave boy on Guadalcanal as an attaché to the U.S. Marines during the bloody period from July to November, 1942. If Nick, now just 18, is a little too brave, strong, sensible and lucky to be real--and maybe, like Forrest Gump, too conveniently turning up at the nexus of things--I find it easy to forgive. "The Persimmon Tree" is an epic story of wartime, evoking the Pacific plight at a time when the British were unable to persevere and the "Yanks" took on defense of the region. But as is usual with Bryce Courtenay, its underlying theme is self-reliance. Though I admire this trait, I long for at least a nod to something more holistic, to what author Douglas Adams called "the fundamental inter-connectedness of all things." This quibble reflects my own world view and it never stops me from obsessively reading these huge books until my eyes and arms are aching.

My only other complaint has nothing to do with the book itself: though Bryce Courtenay is famed and respected in Australia, his books are not well-enough distributed in the U.S. I don't think a single one is available for Kindle--come on, the hardcover version of "The Persimmon Tree" has a shipping weight of 2.3 pounds, who wants to hold that up for hours? I was lucky enough to find it from Audible, and the narrator, Humphrey Gower, has a voice well suited to the Australian vernacular running through the book. To those who don't care for audio, however, the astonishing 28 hour production might seem like "hard yakka." I enjoyed every hour, every minute, and was glad to avoid the wear and tear of reading such a huge and wonderful book. If you love epics that showcase the human spirit with great honesty, then you should find this book and read it.

Linda Bulger, 2010
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, weak ending, June 28, 2013
By 
Thomas E. Riggs (Grove, Oklahoma USA) - See all my reviews
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Have read all of Bryce Courtney's books; would put this in the middle. The story line is good, but ending comes up too suddenly and is weaker than the plot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The case of the two Bryce Courtenays., April 8, 2011
By 
T. Young (Volcano, Hawaii USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Persimmon Tree (Hardcover)
I agree that The Persimmon Tree was every bit as good a novel as The Power of One. Unlike one reviewer, I also liked Tandia. The Potato trilogy left me wanting, however, and regretting that I bought all three tomes at once. I barely got into the first book and knew that I'd made a mistake (as had Bryce Courtenay), so I wasn't eager to purchase The Persimmon Tree. Well, loving Japanese culture as I do, I plunged forth and can happily say that all three books of his that I've liked so far will remain fond memories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars loved the first half/the second half wasnt as good, March 2, 2013
This was only my second Courtenay novel and I very much enjoyed the settings, charactors and beginning of the book. I was on the edge of my seat and loved the colorful writing. I feel like the numerous women did ring a little false, and the soldier he rescued went from a very interesting charactor and new friend into someone I thought really didnt have a place in the book. The end was really disappointing.. after all the build up to their reunion just to have them sail off together to fight her heroin addiction felt wrong.. but still, read it.. you'll learn a lot about a time in history you may not be aware of.
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