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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  4,645 ratings  ·  284 reviews
Jessica is based on the inspiring true story of a young girl's fight for justice against tremendous odds.

A tomboy, Jessica is the pride of her father, as they work together on the struggling family farm. One quiet day, the peace of the bush is devastated by a terrible murder. Only Jessica is able to save the killer from the lynch mob – but will justice prevail in the court...more
Hardcover, 395 pages
Published December 1st 1998 by Viking Australia (first published 1998)
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Best Modern Australian Literature
21st out of 300 books — 360 voters
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26th out of 516 books — 270 voters

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Community Reviews

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If I could put a couple more stars on this one, I would. This is my all time favorite book! Courtenay can truly capture the grit and soul of a woman.
WOW! That was my first reaction to this book. It is sensational. It is on my list of "life-changing" books as it has helped me redefine what it means to live a successful life. Events beyond the control of Jessica alter the course of her life, but how she deals with it is truly inspiring. It proves that remaining true to yourself and your ideals will allow you to live the best life you can.Life may not give you everything you want, but how you deal with what it's given you speaks volumes about y...more
I struggled with this story - mainly due to the way Jessica was being treated by her own family. For some reason the writing came a bit close to the bone. I skipped a few bits but persevered and finished feeling very benevolent towards Mr Courtney. Only to discover that he had recently died. Over the years I have had a very inconsistent attitude towards his books Matthew Flinders cat is one of my all time favorites and of course there is a special place for the power of one. Yet Tommo and Hawk a...more
Coco-chanel Young
I am not one who takes to books that have a continuous theme of tragedy, and that is how I felt reading Jessica. It was exhausting to read. I kept waiting for something good to happen but only sadness, cruelty and unfairness were common in the book.

There were so many things wrong as well as right. Joe really irked me. He was introduced as this headstrong character whom dominated the household, everybody seemed to respect and fear him in a way. I really took a liking to joe, If not initially a b...more
Jan 14, 2013 Sybarite rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Friends
Recommended to Sybarite by: Friend
For anybody who has ever tangled with hardship, heartache, pride, love, pain, losses, joy and sorrow, this book is for you. Seven years later I can remember almost every single thing about this novel, that is how much it stuck with me, the writing was magnificent and elegant, the plot- riveting and tantalising, the characters, enigmatic, engaging and all too powerful for their own good.
One of my all time favourite novels, taking me on an incomparable emotional journey that will leave the reader...more
A stellar novel I will have to read again to write a thorough review for all who read them here!
This is one of the finest novels I have read. It's based on a true story, takes place in Australia. Jessica is still well loved by the aborginal people. In the early days of the 20th century all aborginal children fathered by white men were taken away from their familys and given to whites to raise. This is Jessicas story..A young girls fight for justice against tremendous odds. A tomboy, Jessica is the pride of her father, as they work on the struggling family farm. One quiet day the peace of t...more
Laura Buechler
I am really surprised to see so many reviews here of Jessica (the character) being held up as such a positive role model, and Jessica (the book) being hailed as such a fantastic read. It is one of the weakest Bryce Courtenay books I have read. I think Courtenay made his characters too flat and one-dimensional, and in particular his portrayal of Meg and Hester veered into soap opera territory.

The final section of the book, which is largely taken up by a court case to do with the Aboriginal Prote...more
Humphrey Bower is the primary reason I started listening Bryce Courtenay's books. His narration is so good, that he makes the characters come to life. I finished this book two days ago, and it still haunts me. Poor Jessica, yet she was a selfless character who took care of those in need. Her mother, I loathed that woman! She put the "W" in wicked. A mother could really be that heartless, and greedy, and conniving? Apparently so, if one is to believe this story is based on a true st...more
I'm sorry to say that I haven't enjoyed this book as much as I expected.
Comparisons are usually worthless, but I can't help but think of Courtenay's former novel, "The Power of One" and find that "Jessica" lacked originality and spirit.
Whereas I loved Peekay and Doc and the way the story flowed, with its easy prose, written almost like a fairy tale, with strong conviction and hope; I wasn't drawn to Jessica or her problems. I thought she was a grown up woman when she has to deal with the sneak...more
M.j. Croan
A fascinating account of two women’s (mother and daughter) determination to gain wealth, and respectability at any cost. Lies, forgery, murder, abduction and a fake pregnancy all conspire to rob their daughter, and sister of her child. But Jessie, their victim is a fighter. With an assortment of oddball friends and social outcasts, she fights back, not just against her own sister and mother, but against a government policy that tries to breed black out of its indigenous peoples.
Set against the...more
Kathleen Hagen
Jessica, by Bryce Courtenay, Narrated by Humphrey Bower, Produced by Bolinda Audio, Downloaded from

I love Courtenay’s vast sweeping epics about Australia, and no one narrates them better than Humphrey Bower. This one is about Jessica, a girl who was raised almost as a boy because her father had no sons. She preferred being outdoors to learning the charm school virtues of feminity in the early 1900’s. She grew up to be her father’s right-hand “man” and only with her help was he able...more
Jill Smith
Jessica is ‘A striking and … moving story’ the Age extract on the cover announces, and it is. Moreover, I found in this work the character remarkably real, the Australian land she lives in powerfully described and very satisfying. This strong young woman comes to life vividly without the aid of contrived mannerisms Courtenay had used in earlier books for his central characters.

Her life is hard and yet she is likable and loving, thoughtful and caring, isolated but not alone. She copes with her fa...more
Kelly Moffatt
I read this book because my friend highly recommended it as one of her favourite books of all time. Unfortunately I do not share that sentiment. I was utterly disappointed. I kept waiting for the story to get better but it was so utterly depressing. The way Jessica was treated by her family was disgusting and just left me feeling disgusted most of the book. It also frustrated the hell out of me that I didn't know who the father of her child was until the end... I felt this was the only way the a...more
Another classic by Bryce, I was not able to put it down and read all night long until 7 am, I can't remember any other book that would captivate me so. The story is as enthralling as it is sad and cruel, I can not believe it is actually based on a true events, which makes it even more heart breaking.

Courtenay, style is at its best: the characters are alive and jump at you from the pages, the realities of life are harsh and at the same time poetically depicted. He has drawn an excellent picture o...more
My god, it has been ages since i read this book but I still carry the scars. I don't think I have ever cried so much during a book. Okay maybe a few times, i am a bit of a cry baby. However, this book wassad because nothing ever got fixed and then she dies. It screamed of injustices, come on how much can a person go through before she just gives up! It has stayed with me because of the unfairness dealt to Jessica, why? I wanted to and did scream this at the book on many occasions. Alot happens i...more
This is the 2nd Courtenay book I've read. I loved his "The Power of One," and picked this one up at our Library book sale for $2.

Courtenary says he bases this book on the real life of a young Australian woman who fought hard for social justice issues, which defied the conventions of her time. This story is full of mean spirited people, deceit, theft, physical hardships and murder. This book backs up the saying "life is hard, and then you die." Numerous times I looked up from the book and just sa...more
I went back and forth about this book. There were times when the writing was really good and the story was rich. There were other times when it just seemed way too long. If you're looking for another Power of One, then this book will be a disappointment. If there were half stars I might be tempted to go with 3 1/2 stars. I'm trying to think what to write and really it was such a strange meandering story, so tragic in places, predictable many times but then a beautiful surprise would freshen the...more
The Cats Mother
This is an emotionally draining book about a feisty Australian girl who lives in the NSW bush with her poor farming family in 1914. Her mother has planned to marry her beautiful older sister off to the rich local landowners son, but when he is sent off to fight in WW1 a terrible conspiracy is hatched. I don't want to give too much away, as part of the power of the book is the way Jessica deals with what is thrown at her. It's supposed to be based on a true story - although I'm not sure which par...more
Alexandra Pantelas
Jessica has got to be one of the most heart wrenching books I have ever read. I continued to think about poor Jessica for weeks after I finished it. It portrays how ignorant people used to be and how justice does not always prevail. Unfortunately Jessica was born in the wrong era, and a girl of her mind set in this day and age would have most likely lived a long and successful life. Hester and Meg made me sick to the core and I hoped throughout the book that they would have been killed or at lea...more
Feb 07, 2014 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who love fiction, romance and drama.
Recommended to Amy by: My grandmother.
Hello, readers!

This enthralling book was such a sad and mind-boggling novel. It opened up my mind and showed me what life really was like for the poor people back in the early 20th century. Jessica, the main character, was so intriguing, puzzling but very insightful and she was so interesting to read about. Jessica is a tomboy, raised to be her father's son to help out on the farm. Her older sister Meg is very much her mother's daughter, and it is Meg's and their mother's mission for Meg to sedu...more
This was definitely a page-turner, but more because I was traumatised and angered at what happened to the main character Jessica, and kept turning the pages hoping to find a resolution, the happy ending. Regardless of which way that went, it was one of those books so full of description that I was initially put off, until I realised that I could actually visualise the entire landscape, village and people as if I had been there myself. And that's when you realise what a fabulous writer Bryce Cour...more
The writting was fine, the story was entertaining, but the voice was very weird. First person, present is a very awkward way to present a story. Even more awkward is the reader being privy to the main character's inner thought life, but left in the dark about a major plot point.

- Spoiler Alert -

The paternity of Jessica's baby kept me going through parts of this rather long novel. It's revealing on the last page is the only reason I finished the book. But here's the real plot twist...Courtenay...more
I read this after watching the mini-series on TV. I'm not usually one for any of this "Australian drama", anything with an outback setting and what not, but this book was just amazing.

I could not put it down. I read it again as soon as I was finished, I loved it that much. I cried at the end both times.

It's not my normal type of book by any stretch, but I'd still recommend it to everyone. Just a really great book.
It says in the description for this book "Jessica is based on the inspiring true story of a young girl's fight for justice against tremendous odds."

The fact that this is a true story which I find infinitely sad is the only reason this book got two stars instead of one. I'm sorry but I found absolutely nothing inspiring about this book at all, this poor girl does not cop a break at all and in the end she dies. I was reading on, thinking something good has to happen but nothing does.
I guess that's...more
Gerald Camp
Not as good as The Power of One. Lots of cliches and lots of padding, but the main character kind of got to me. Courtenay could have found a better ending, I think.
Theresa French
Could not put this book down
May 07, 2009 Katrina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Serious Historical Fiction Readers Who Handle Depression Well
Ok, I love this book with reservations. Events beyond the control of Jessica alter the course of her life, but how she deals with it is truly inspiring. It proves that remaining true to yourself and your ideals will allow you to live the best life you can. Life may not give you everything you want, but how you deal with what it's given you speaks volumes about your character and your "success." I really enjoyed the book until Jessica’s father's death, but after that the story lost it's spark. Pr...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carolyn Hastie
This book was a strange experience....I loved parts of it and really didn't enjoy others. I struggled through the first quarter as I felt the potential for a great story but it seemed to take forever to take off. Too often there was background and off-track story telling that seemed unnecessary. The same thing happened towards the end as Mary Simpson's situation became the wasn't that I didn't enjoy this storyline or that I didn't get its relationship to Jessica's own life but I just...more
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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...more
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The Power of One Tandia The Potato Factory (The Potato Factory, #1) April Fool's Day Tommo and Hawk (The Potato Factory, #2)

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