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Jack of Diamonds - Bryce Courtenay

Paperback

Published: 24th July 2013
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If poker was an addiction then music was an overwhelming obsession; one could never replace the other in my life.

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 – and Bryce Courtenay's last novel.

About the Author

Arthur Bryce Courtenay (born 14 August 1933) is a South-African-born naturalized Australian novelist and one of Australia's most commercially successful authors.

Born in Johannesburg, Courtenay spent most of his early years in a small village in the Lebombo Mountains in South Africa's Limpopo province. In 1955, while studying journalism in London, Courtenay met his future wife, Benita, and eventually emigrated to 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. In 1991, Damon (who was born with the blood condition haemophilia) died at age 24 from AIDS-related complications, contracted through a blood transfusion. Courtenay divorced Benita in 2000 and has acknowledged some indiscretions during their 42-year marriage. He now lives in Canberra, ACT , with his partner, Christine Gee. Benita Courtenay died on 11 March 2007, at the age of 72, four months after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

His novels are primarily set in either Australia, his adopted country, or South Africa, the country of his birth. 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 has since been made into a film—as well as being re-released in an edition for children.

Courtenay is one of Australia's most commercially successful authors. He has 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 gives away up to 2,500 books free each year to readers he meets in the street. However, only The Power of One has been published in the United States. Courtenay claims that this is 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.

Bryce Courtenay

Bryce: in his own words...

I was born illegitimately in 1933 in South Africa and spent my early childhood years in a small town deep in the heart of the Lebombo mountains.

It was a somewhat isolated community and I grew up among farm folk and the African people. At the age of five I was sent to a boarding school which might be better described as a combination orphanage and reform school, where I learned to box - though less as a sport and more as a means to stay alive.

But I survived to return to a small mountain town named Barberton in the North Eastern part of the country.

Here I met Doc, a drunken German music teacher who spent the next few years filling my young mind with the wonders of nature as we roamed the high mountains. His was the best education I was ever to receive, despite the scholarship I won to a prestigious boy's school and thereafter to a university in England where I studied Journalism.

I came to Australia because I was banned from returning to my own country.

This was due to the fact that I had started a weekend school for Africans in the school hall of the prestigious boy's school I attended.

One day the school hall was raided by the police who then branded me a Communist as they considered educating Africans a subversive act.

While studying journalism, I met a wonderful Australian girl.

"Come to my country!" Benita invited.

I did, and soon after arriving in Australia, married her. Benita gave me three splendid sons, Brett, Adam and Damon. Brett, who married Ann has given me three lovely grandsons, Ben now 14, Jake is about to turn 12 and Marcus is almost 6 years old.

I have lived all my Australian life in Sydney (the nicest place on earth) and, until I started writing fiction, made my career in advertising working as a copywriter and creative director.

At the age of 55 I decided to take the plunge. I had been telling stories since the age of five and had always known I would be a writer some day, though life kept getting in the way until I realised that it was either now or never.

Bryce Courtenay died at his home in Canberra, Australia. He was 79. Courtenay is survived by his second wife Christine Gee and his children Adam and Brett.

Visit Bryce Courtenay's Booktopia Author Page


ISBN: 9780670076215
ISBN-10: 067007621X
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 720
Published: 24th July 2013
Dimensions (cm): 22.7 x 14.9  x 5.3
Weight (kg): 22.7
Edition Number: 1