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Whitethorn

2.5 (1375)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Whitethorn.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Bryce Courtenay(Author)

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4.4 (11602)
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Book details

  • PDF | 1 pages
  • Bryce Courtenay(Author)
  • Penguin Group Australia; First Edition edition (2005)
  • English
  • 9
  • Other books

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Review Text

  • By John Lewis on January 9, 2013

    This was my first Bryce Courtenay novel.I had tried to find his books for the kindle while we were sailing around Australia last year but for some reason the kindle versions did not show up when I searched. Ironically it turned out that leaving "kindle" out of the search phrase allowed me to see the kindle versions but if I used the word "kindle" I only got drops for the paper and audio versions of his books.The reason I have started with this book is because we had arrived in South Africa by the time I had figured out how to find the kindle versions of his books on Amazon. "Whitethorn" was highly recommended by a friend here at the Zululand Yacht Club who was helping me understand Apartheid and its aftermath in this troubled country.After looking at the Bryce Courtenay web site and reading the bio material included there, it is pretty obvious that this book is largely autobiographical. Courtenay was born in South Africa, was raised in an orphanage, and immigrated to Australia with his first wife who was Australian.I found the characters in the book to be well developed and believable and feel that Courtenay did a good job of walking the thin line between telling it like it was and being judgmental. There is a Zulu hero but also Afrikaners who are likable, descent people. The book treats the complex problem of racial prejudice and sexual predation with the shades of gray that are appropriate and leaves the reader understanding how complex these problems are and what a barrier they are to South Africa's evolution into a full fledged member of the nations in the 21st century.At the time I am writing this review I am 3/4 of the way through "The Potato Factory" which is turning out to be another fine novel by an author who deserves more attention that he seems to have gotten with US audiences.Courtenay was a good craftsman who wrote very readable books. I am hopeful that the rest of his works will be as satisfying to read as this book was.

  • By Cavilrick on January 7, 2006

    Let me start by saying this is a great coming of age story about a young boy Tom Fitzsaxby growing up during the 40's and 50's in South Africa. The writing style is written as if Tom is more of an observer of his life than a participant in it. This gives the book an unusual tone that is well both told and absorbing.By why the three stars then?Point One;Well 'haven't I read this before?'. Why yes. In the 'Power of One' also by Bryce Courtenay.The similarities; Young boy of English descent growing up in South Africa - raised in an orphanage/ boarding school - persecuted by Afrikaner children - loner - scenes of urination (!) - makes friends with understanding adults who mentor him - brilliant student rises above it all - boxing - works in Rhodesian mines (I nearly gave up then and there) - meets school boy tormentor - some sort of resolution - goes to English University - becomes a lawyer (okay that's in Tandia the follow up to Power of One) - fights for the rights of blacks.Point Two;Initially there seems to be no narrative drive, that is to say it is unclear exactly where the story is going. It meanders along telling stories about our protagonist's youth but it's unclear where all this is leading. It becomes apparent in the last third though. Secondly, the book seems to 'hurry' towards a conclusion. I have come across this before in other books by Mr Courtenay. Where after a prolonged build up, the resolution comes all too quickly considering the narrative tone preceding this point.These criticisms shouldn't take away from the fact that this is a well written book that is an enjoyable read. It immerses you in South African life of that period and the people and attitudes of the time.So 4/5 if you haven't read 'Power of One'

  • By R. E. Seeman on June 22, 2009

    WHITETHORN A Novel of Africa By Bryce Courtenay Reviewed by Roger Seeman, Pretoria, South Africa.This is not a book for the squeamish, if you love children. But even the squeamish will be unable to resist turning its 671 pages, such is the compulsion to find out what life holds in store for illegitimate Tom Fitzsaxby, abandoned in an orphanage in South Africa at age four.Overwhelmed by Afrikaans orphans who have been taught, from pulpit and at daily breakfast lectures, to hate everything English, and to idolize Hitler, English-born Tom is made to feel personally responsible for the deaths of Afrikaaner women and children in British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War. Defenseless, he is brutalized physically and verbally. But one man, a Zulu labourer in the orphanage, and Tom's father-figure, rescues him from a degrading situation - and is murdered as a result.But Tom's intelligence is recognized by a kindly Afrikaans student teacher who sets in motion a chain of events that transforms his life. This enables him to escape the orphanage at a relatively early age, achieve academic honours, and to avenge the murder of the Zulu labourer. Tom's adventures take him beyond the borders of South Africa, and lead to him getting caught up in the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya.Written in the first person, Tom's experiences are told in graphically disturbing, but often heart-warming detail. The language of the book is not always the Queen's English, but it is the only language Tom knows, and it is not without some humour. The frequent use of Afrikaans words and phrases is brilliantly handled by the author so that even non-South African readers cannot fail to understand their meanings. There is also a glossary to aid this understanding, but unfortunately one only discovers this once one has turned the last page.Whitethorn is strongly autobiographical, the author himself having been born illegitimately (See [...] and who has an intimate knowledge of all he writes about in this book. A splendid read.


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