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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of One Revisited (almost!)
Whitethorn is in certain respects very similar to The Power of One, and in my view this is not a bad thing. It is about a young English Orphan growing up in in a South African Boer orphanage. The story has many parallels with the original work (there are boxing references, injustices caused by racial prejudice and good finally triumphing over evil). That said, I found the...
Published on 8 Oct 2007 by Peekay

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but same old formula
There is not much I can say that has not already been said by other reviewers. I would echo the fact that this is a rehash of The Power of One really with minor alterations in plot but similar structure.I guess it is a successful writer giving his fans what they want but it does strike me as lazy. If you were to read the novel as a stand alone you would enjoy it. However...
Published 9 months ago by Matteo_B


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of One Revisited (almost!), 8 Oct 2007
This review is from: Whitethorn (Paperback)
Whitethorn is in certain respects very similar to The Power of One, and in my view this is not a bad thing. It is about a young English Orphan growing up in in a South African Boer orphanage. The story has many parallels with the original work (there are boxing references, injustices caused by racial prejudice and good finally triumphing over evil). That said, I found the book totally engrossing and found it hard to put down. If you liked The Power of One you are bound to enjoy Whitethorn.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant portrait of the subtleties of racism, 15 Jan 2008
By 
Gordon Eldridge (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Whitethorn (Paperback)
Tom Fitzsaxby is an orphan whose English surname ensures that he will be a total outcast in the rural Afrikaner orphanage he grows up in. The story follows Tom through the years of WWII and the post-war years until he is in his thirties. During this time he is dogged by the legacy of the racism that was rampant in the community of his childhood. The early stages of the book are written using the narrative voice of the young Tom. The naivety inherent in this child's perspective allows Courtenay to explore and comment on aspects of racism without ever becoming preachy or trite.

The story is peopled with a variety of fascinating characters of differing racial and social backgrounds, allowing us a glimpse into the subtly different ways that racism manifests itself. At times the plot is a trifle contrived and Tom seems to be the recipient of just a few too many lucky breaks, but the overall storyline is gripping as well as containing many interesting historical details. Overall the novel is an insightful window onto the nature of racial conflict in southern Africa.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant, 28 Oct 2010
This review is from: Whitethorn (Paperback)
I am not a big reader, and for me this book looked a little scary with over 600 pages. But it was recommended to me by a dear friend due to my African history. Wow what a read. It's simply a fabulous tale that will having you exploring all your own emotions. I am not too sure to what extent it's fiction or based on truth, but either way when you read it, you will feel that you are reading a real life story. Just read it and be touched, and learn a little African history along the way too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but same old formula, 30 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Whitethorn (Paperback)
There is not much I can say that has not already been said by other reviewers. I would echo the fact that this is a rehash of The Power of One really with minor alterations in plot but similar structure.I guess it is a successful writer giving his fans what they want but it does strike me as lazy. If you were to read the novel as a stand alone you would enjoy it. However I read the book immediately after reading The Power of One and was immediately bored with the repetition. Courtenay was not a bad writer but the style is sometimes syrupy and sometimes implausible. The main character does not seem to have any flaws which would make him seem human, except for the misfortune of his birth. He is just good at everything like Peekay in The Power of One. Wilbur Smith's characters seem to be like this as well. It is fine for a bit of escapist fantasy but does leave you thinking "yeah right". The portrayal of the boers and the broederbond is very good though and you do get an idea of the political tensions of the time.

Others have discussed the plot but I don't want to give the game away. However my final word is wait a while before reading this if you have just read The Power of One.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great story, told well, 24 Mar 2013
This review is from: Whitethorn (Paperback)
It is the Boer War that defines relationships in this novel and causes many Afrikaners to sympathise with the Nazis. Although the novel begins in 1939, it follows Tom through to the 1960s, to apartheid and resistance to it by many in South Africa.

The hero of the novel is young Tom Fitzsaxby whose English name alone is enough to select him for some pretty harsh treatment whilst in 'The Boy's Farm', a Boer run orphanage with some pretty horrific ideas as to how to treat young children.

Tom is an outsider from the start of the novel; he is an orphan and later is informed by the staff of the Boy's Farm that he is in fact a bastard, a term he has to spend some time finding out the meaning of. Friendships are not encouraged and indeed the boys are pitted against each other and punished harshly for misdemeanors of others but no one will ever tell tales and they just accept the beatings as a way of life.

Tom has only two friends at this orphanage, one is a Zulu man who tends the pigs and the other is a puppy called tinker that he found in a sack in a river. Mattress, the Zulu helps Tom look after the pup by giving her to a sow until she is weaned.

If anyone has read 'The Power of One' this story has some similarities in that Tom is an outsider, there are references to boxing, good does win over evil in the end and there are definite anti racist elements to the story as racial injustices are many and in fact Tom is focused on putting one major injustice right throughout the entire novel.

I really liked the way Courtney told the story through Tom's voice and at the start of the novel he is only seven so his interpretation is that of a seven year old and his voice is that way too. By the end if the book Tom is a successful educated young man and his voice has changed completely and during the book the change had been gradual which i thought was very clever.

The story is like many others just a re write of a standard tale that of a lonely outsider who is saved and wins through because of his intellect, decent character and love of books .However I do think Courtney has managed to bring the element of real story teller to this one. I love the way he uses Afrikaans words and you can almost hear the strong South African 'accent' throughout the book.

.I also like the way Tom simply describes the actions of others and doesn't make moral judgments. He speaks it as he sees it and there are many pretty horrific things he sees at a very young age and the way he casually tells of the cruelties he encounters and suffers makes them all the more shocking to us as readers from our more liberal age.

I am not quite sure why the Kenyan Mau Mau element was added to Tom's story but maybe just to set the time and add a bit of a love interest.
I enjoyed the book and thought that this was almost as good as 'Power of One ' and 'Tandia' and a lot better than the 'Persimmon tree' but it did however have an element of the latter in that Tom was a little like 'Forrest Gump' in than he was there when so many historical events happened and he attended institutions that were fairly prestigious considering his unlikely start in life. He is also a little too perfect for my personal taste, I want him to lose his temper and go for someone or to reject helping someone who had personally been horrible to him yet he never does.

Tom has one main aim in life and and that is to get justice for his childhood friend and even though the ending is pretty predictable it is more the way the story is told and the pictures created that make this much more than just an average 'boys own' tale of adventure.

I enjoyed this and found it a very easy read that I was keen to get back to each night ( I only read in bed before going to sleep) but my husband loved it and really rated it. He likes slightly different books from me usually; his detective novels which leave me cold but I knew he would enjoy this as he likes an easy read with a good story and is less concerned about reality in characters and believability in a story.

If you like an easy read with likeable, if not totally realistic characters as well as some pretty horrible ones too then this is a great story of good triumphing over evil. The book is very readable and at times is really gripping, it has many elements from horrific almost Victorian orphanage descriptions through to War and training of soldiers, copper mining and more as well as elements of shocking living on the streets, sprinkled with humour love for dogs and loyalty to true friends. It is a real mix with something for everyone and I have a feeling it may well become a film just as "Power of One" did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whitethorn, 13 May 2009
By 
Ms. Mary L. Fernandez (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Whitethorn (Paperback)
This was the first Bryce Courtenay book I read and it will always remain my favourite. He is a truly wonderful writer but this book is in a class of its own. It makes you laugh and it makes you cry and a lot of it was actually true. You are with the main character from the very beginning and you share all his emotions and feel his sorrow and anger. It's a classic book which portrays racism as it was until very recently through the eyes of Tom Fitzsaxby as he grows up in South Africa. Once you read it, you will never forget it. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Whitethorn by B Courteny, 26 Mar 2014
By 
Big D "Don" (Scotland Highlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Whitethorn (Kindle Edition)
This is the 5th book by Bryce Courtenay and once again I found it to be riveting, it holds you from start to Finnish, I will continue to read his books. I would recommend them very highly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner, 14 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Whitethorn (Kindle Edition)
It takes a little while to get into the book but then you can't put it down. Our book club liked it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars very good book, 11 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Whitethorn (Kindle Edition)
please send me more from this author, also books by andy mcnab,and chris ryan
I also like war stories.
thank you
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first Courtenay book I ever read., 21 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Whitethorn (Kindle Edition)
A brilliant book which lead me to read every other book by this author. I lived in Southern Africa for some years and this book, in particular, took me back.
I can also highly recommend all of his other novels.
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Whitethorn
Whitethorn by Bryce Courtenay (Paperback - 2 Aug 2007)
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