Age­ing au­thor still has it

Rotorua Daily Post - - Books -

Court­ney’s War By Wil­bur Smith, Allen & Un­win, $39.99

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Eighty-five-year-old Wil­bur Smith has sold well over a hun­dred mil­lion copies of his books, since he first hit pay-dirt with When the Lion Feeds. Many of his books are cen­tred on Africa, which is where he grew up with his par­ents on their farm in Zam­bia.

I am not sure ex­actly how many of his 30-some­thing books I’ve read but he has been a con­stant in my to read pile for decades now. It’s in­evitable that there will be a de­gree of un­even-ness with a pro­lific writer like Wil­bur Smith, but ac­tu­ally in his case that isn’t so. And Court­ney’s War proves once again that a tal­ented writer can de­liver, de­spite age and a long list of ear­lier pub­li­ca­tions. In fact I was pleas­antly sur­prised at just how good a read this new novel is. The set­ting is World War II, the main char­ac­ters be­come sep­a­rated on op­po­site sides of the con­flict, Saf­fron Court­ney, born in Africa but based in Eng­land, and her beloved Ger­man boyfriend Ger­hard Von Meer­bach. They both have a tough war, with courage and com­mit­ment to their causes prom­i­nent, at least un­til Ger­hard be­comes dis­en­chanted by the Nazi dogma. It’s rather re­fresh­ing to be able to thor­oughly rec­om­mend a new novel by an age­ing rock star of the novel writ­ing world. Court­ney’s War is every bit wor­thy of that rec­om­men­da­tion. — Tony Nielsen

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