The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

The Power Of One: Library Edition

2.5 stars

The boy was 5 years old when he was torn away from his beloved nanny and was sent to a boarding school. It seems his mother had a nervous breakdown and had to get away herself. Boarding school was not kind to the boy: he was called Pisskop (or pisshead in Afrikaans). In order to survive, Pisskop, an intelligent child, adopted a chameleon-like nature.

Just as he was getting the hang of it and is seeing light at the end of the tunnel, once again life took a turn. This time for a bigger and lifelong adventure…

As I chose an unabridged audio and it was read in a South African accent, it took me a while to adjust to understand what he’s saying. There were some tense moments I really enjoyed like his first boxing match and also most of the last chapter although I was disappointed that it didn’t go further than that (bit vague here so you’ll have to read it yourself to know what I mean).

The book tells the coming-of-age story of a boy in South Africa in 1940s – 1950s. There are the usual issues like bullying and other more unusual kindness by others who took him under their wings & tutelage. It also touched on racism, which was a “non-issue” then, where he’s teetering over the edge but never really took the plunge. I was a little bit disappointed with this but I had to consider that this is his first published work and this was not really the main point of the story, this was just part of life in South Africa at the time.

What I appreciate most was with this audio book was the introduction by the author himself. He shared that he didn’t really have a story in mind so he wanted to write his own story; to practice writing in first person. So this is basically an “superhyped autobiography” but the narrative is roughly the story of his life. The script was being used as a doorstop before someone managed to persuade him to send it off to get published!

3 thoughts on “The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

  1. Booklover Book Reviews

    I really enjoyed this story when I read it many years, so compelling and with such lovely descriptive detail (physical copy). I also went on to read the follow-up novel, Tandia – from memory it was a lot more gritty as the characters are older.

    I think audiobooks are the best thing since sliced bread, but I have found you do have to be very selective and listen to a sample of the narration before purchasing, just to see whether it will work for you. Some voices just work for me, and others don’t – and if you don’t like the narrator that can ruin a wonderful story.

  2. shelleyrae@ Book'd Out

    It’s been a while since I read this but it’s my favourite by Courteney. The movie is quite good as well

    Shelleyrae @ book’d Out


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