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Bryce Courtenay was unknown to me until my niece told me about his "Power of One". Jessica is his 4th book I've read (listened to) and was just as richly detailed and filled with characters unique and complicated as previous reads. Jessica's story takes you out of contemporary times and sets you down in the middle of 1914 Australian bush country. The detail of the landscape and Jessica's spirit and drive will be with you long after you finish. For me Jessica is one of those books that are hard to follow - once you finish it and want to begin other books they pale in comparison. Other Bryce Courtenay books I loved and would put in my top 10 best loved/most enjoyed are "The Power of One" and "Tandia." Review written by Robert's wife Denise
20 of 20 people found this review helpful
I have read or I should say listened to most of Bryce Courtenay's novels - the last three in sequence of reading were "Four Fires", "Whitethorn" and most recently "Jessica". Courtenay's books are powerful, stimulating and at times quite funny. In "Whitethorn" and to a lesser extent, "Four Fires", good triumphs over evil. Not so in Jessica; evil prevails. "Jessica" rates up there with Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'urbervilles", but Hardy's heroine never encounters the depth of human depravity and corruption so endured by Jessica. Courtenay attacks racism head on, sometimes with ridicule, sometimes with humor and always vividly exposing the cruelity and inhumanity of the state departments, in this case, Education and Aboriginal Affairs. The Church also does not escape the biting criticism of the author's pen.
At the risk of being too negative, I point out that there is a strong bond created between Jessica and the aborginal, Mary, a bond that endures a lifetime. The two lawyers, one who is a drunkard and the other a young idealistic communist, are both endearing, intelligent and principled.
One other reviewer who did not have much good to say about "Jessica" claimed that the ending was "silly". I don't think so. Life happens sometimes that way.
One final note: what else can be said about Humphrey Bower. He is utterly amazing, so many characters brought to life by Mr. Bower.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
I am completely addicted to Bryce Courtenay's books. I read Jessica after several others and was not sure what to expect. In fact, it is brilliant. A real insight into the lives and times of the Australian outback and the prejudices meeted out to the native Aboriginals and poor immigrant whites. A fascinating, moving and thought enthalling book. I can't get enough of Bryce Courtenay but I will keep away from those snakes!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
A great story that again teaches you some things about a time and place that you didnt know before. The characters are as always, well defined and you can relate to all of them. Its a gripping tale and you feel yourself becoming wrapped in the story and cant wait till you can continue with it. Often when I have read books by the same author, they can become too similar or just arent as good as the were, but Bryce Courtenay has so far never failed to grab my attention and keep it.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
i have always enjoyed Bryce Courtneys writing and this book is no exception. good on aussie battlers.
this is a great novel that tells of the harsh life of outback Australia in 1900s, the struggles of the indigenous peoples and of the brutality faced in mental asylums.