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4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,176 Ratings  ·  349 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
Hardcover, 395 pages
Published December 1st 1998 by Viking Australia (first published 1998)
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Anne Power of One is a MUST. But he has dozens of other great ones. Persimmon Tree would be my next one and then maybe Danny Dunn and Four Fires
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakCloudstreet by Tim WintonTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenA Town Like Alice by Nevil ShuteThe Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Best Modern Australian Literature
26th out of 404 books — 478 voters
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenA Town Like Alice by Nevil ShuteCloudstreet by Tim WintonPicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Best Books Set in Australia
29th out of 576 books — 384 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 18, 2009 Patty rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 30, 2008 Joyce rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 11, 2015 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lent-to-me
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
Jan 14, 2013 Sybarite rated it it was amazing
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
Coco-chanel Young
Nov 20, 2013 Coco-chanel Young rated it liked it
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
Mar 21, 2013 Dolors rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Nov 25, 2009 Teddie rated it it was amazing
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
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
May 19, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
A stellar novel I will have to read again to write a thorough review for all who read them here!
M.j. Croan
Jul 26, 2010 M.j. Croan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 23, 2014 Rogerio rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jill Smith
May 12, 2012 Jill Smith rated it really liked it
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
Kelly Moffatt
Nov 04, 2013 Kelly Moffatt rated it it was ok
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
Apr 28, 2009 Polina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: available
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
Dec 27, 2011 Jill rated it really liked it
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
May 23, 2011 Julia rated it liked it
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
Jul 21, 2009 AmyLyn rated it liked it
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
James Giddings
We listened to most of this book as an audio book during a long car trip, and my wife let me finish it at home (her turn is next :) ). Today, I alternated listening to the last two chapters with live coverage of the American Indian Movement tribunal on the genocidal Native American boarding schools of the 20th century, where children were taught "to despise their traditons" (as Buffy Sainte-Marie puts it in her wonderful song "Now that the Buffalo's Gone") ...more
Alexandra Pantelas
Jul 06, 2014 Alexandra Pantelas rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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
Jun 03, 2010 Megan rated it really liked it
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
Sep 25, 2014 Renee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dahlia Exitium
Sep 06, 2015 Dahlia Exitium rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone over the age of 12 (due to some scenes)
I don't think words can express how much I enjoyed this novel...

Bryce Courtenay has always been one of the most well-known names throughout book reading history and there is absolutely no wonders why!

I originally picked up this book because my name is the title and I can be strange like that, but after bringing it home my boyfriend (someone who DOES NOT read) told me that it was a fantastic book. So, I am pretty sure that sums up how brilliant this novel is!

The story is set in history on a farm
Tracey  Gass
Oct 10, 2014 Tracey Gass rated it it was amazing
I love this author so much! He has a way of creating a story that totally sucks you in so that you can't put it down. I loved this story. It is humbling to read of other peoples hardships and complete determination and makes me wonder what I would do or have done in similar life circumstances? I was crying at the end and to me that makes a really good story when you are so involved in the characters life that you feel like you have lost them.
Ms. Latchford
Dec 01, 2010 Ms. Latchford rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan Reid

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 Jes
Jun 09, 2015 Nancy rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time.
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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
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