I have to admit though that I have never read a Bryce Courtenay book, nor even seen a film based on one of his books, such as the one above.
with his last book Jack of Diamonds, which was heavily promoted in Australia at the time.
But what really hit me was the title of the book, because at the time I was participating with sync bloggers over the "Jack" syncs in movies that were coming out around Christmas time.
During the Great Depression there was little hope for a boy born into the slums of Cabbagetown, Toronto.
But Jack Spayd is offered a ticket out in the form of a Hohner harmonica, won by his brutal drunken father in a late-night card game.
Jack makes music as a way of escaping his surroundings, and his talent leads him to a jazz club and, eventually, to the jazz piano.
Jack is a virtuoso and hits the road, enchanting audiences in Canada, wartime Europe and Las Vegas, where he is caught up in the world of elite poker and falls under the spell of his boss, the enigmatic Bridgett Fuller.
Vegas is a hard town ruled by the Mafia, but Jack prospers, until his luck turns bad and he falls foul of the Mob.
Forced to run for his life from Vegas, he must also leave the woman he adores.
His adventuring takes him to the far reaches of Africa, to a rare and valuable bird that may seal his fate – and to the love of a very different woman.
Set across three continents, Jack of Diamonds is a spellbinding story of chance, music, corruption and love.
Bryce Courtenay writes in a moving epilogue that Jack of Diamonds will be his last novel."
Jack of Diamonds
"Born Arthur Bryce Courtenay in Johannesburg, South Africa, he spent most of his early years in a small village in the
Lebombo Mountains in the Limpopo province.
He later attended King Edward VII School.
In 1955, while studying journalism in London, Courtenay met his future wife, Benita, and eventually emigrated to Sydney, Australia.
They married in 1959 and had three sons – Brett, Adam and Damon.
Courtenay entered the advertising industry and, over a career spanning 34 years, was the Creative Director of McCann Erickson, J. Walter Thompson & George Patterson Advertising. His award-winning campaigns included Louie the Fly, the original Milkybar Kid commercial and the Australian Labor Party's 1972 election campaign, It's Time."
His first book, The Power of One, was published in 1989 and, despite Courtenay's fears that it would never sell, quickly became one of Australia's best-selling books by any living author. The story was made into a film, as well as being re-released in an edition for children.
Courtenay was one of Australia's most commercially successful authors.
He built up this success over the long-term by promoting himself and developing a relationship with readers as much as marketing his books; for instance, he gave away up to 2,500 books free each year to readers he met in the street.
However, only The Power of One has been published in the United States.
Courtenay claimed that this was because "American publishers for the most part have difficulties about Australia, they are interested in books in their own country first and foremost.
However, we receive many e-mails and letters from Americans who have read my books and I am hoping in the future that publishers will recognize that there is a market for all my books in the U.S." "
"April Fool's Day is a 1993 novel by
Australian author Bryce Courtenay.
The book is a tribute to the author's son, Damon Courtenay, a haemophiliac who contracted HIV/AIDS through an infected blood transfusion.
The title refers to the date of Damon's death, 1 April 1991
(April Fools' Day).
Damon was a classic haemophilliac all his life.
He attempted to write this book himself but did not have much success.
On his death bed, he asked his father to write it for him.
Damon talked a lot about love; he believed it was important that everybody knew how to love. Evidence of this is his attitude towards people who treated people with AIDS unfairly.
Not much was known about AIDS back then and sufferers were frowned upon.
To quote his devoted partner Celeste, "Love is an energy, it cannot be created nor destroyed.
It simply is.
Giving meaning to life and direction to goodness.""
His life just shows (as much as it can) how much one life can have on many, many others.