I have a special section in my bookcase for my collection of Bryce Courtenay books, but 'Jessica', has pride of place. I became a fan of Bryce Courtenay after reading, 'The Power of One', but it was Jessica's story, based on a true story of an Australian girl and her struggle for justice against incredible odds, which became a significant moment in my writing journey. I was so inspired by Courtenay's story and writing, I began writing my first Australian novel shortly after reading Jessica.
Bryce Courtenay, AM (14 August 1933 - 22 November 2012) was a South African novelist who also held Australian citizenship. He is one of Australia's best-selling authors. His novels are primarily set in Australian, his adopted country, or South Africa, the country of his birth. Reading his biography, it is clear to see he was no stranger to hardship in his early life, and it is easy to believe he used the essence of those experiences in his writing, to great advantage.
Jessica (early 1900's), is a young Australian girl, working alongside her father on the family farm in the bush. She is the son he never had, and he is her only source of love, albeit tough-love. Her sister, Meg, and her mother, despise her. Her mother rules the family and will do anything to prevent Jessica from thwarting her plans for herself and Meg, the apple of her eye. There can be no greater treachery than that from family and Jessica learns this lesson all too well. However, despite it all, Jessica has the spirit and courage of a survivor, and Courtenay prepares the reader at the beginning of the book, with the quote: 'If you lose your pluck, you lose the most there is in you - all you've got to live with.' A very applicable quote for - Jessica. Jessica's story is brutally honest, heartbreakingly believable, and without doubt - unforgettable!
Other books of Bryce Courtenay, in my bookcase, include: The Power of One, Jack of Diamonds, Sylvia, Tandia, The Potato Factory, Tommo & Hawk, and Solomon's Song. However, Jessica will always remain one of my most cherished books.