Every May I go to the small town of Clermont Ferrand in order to participate in the Europavox Festival (it was brilliant this year) Anyway I always bring two books from the list with me – The first one was Oscar and Lucinda.
I have stated before that I’m not too crazy about Peter Carey, In fact I read Oscar and Lucinda seven years ago and hated it, but as I’m finding out that with age things tend to change.
Both Oscar and Lucinda are misfits. Oscar is a shy effeminate man who has rejected his Baptist father’s teachings in order to become a vicar and Lucinda wants to prove to the world that a female can rise in society (the book takes place in 1860) and does this by purchasing a glass factory. When both these characters meet they strike it off nicely and they find out that gambling is their passion. Eventually they bet that they cannot build a glass church and ship it to an unknown area of Australia.
Oscar does manage but with results that lead him into trouble.
This novel is very unpredictable and there are some chapters which took me by surprise, this is no ordinary love story and all clichés are thrown out of the window. It’s also a book which deals with colonialism although Carey is clever and makes this seem like a secondary plot until the end when it takes over the supposed romance between Oscar and Lucinda. Yes it was an enjoyable read and I loved Carey’s style of writing, which addictive.
Incidentally there should be more frequent updates as this is the last of the thick books and I have a lot of slim novels to be read.
In the past I have read two Peter Carey novels (Oscar and Lucinda and The True History of the Kelly Gang) and I found them rather boring. With Carey I have a tendency to lose focus on the writing and drift off. Thankfully Jack Maggs is a different story altogether.
It’s London 1837 and Jack Maggs returns from his prison term in Australia in order to settle some dues with Henry Phipps. Upon arriving he finds out that Phipps is not there and is hired at the Buckle residence as footman. As soon as Maggs is hired he is thrown into a maelstrom of deceit, hidden relationships, the supernatural and certain secrets, most which affect his destiny throughout the novel and ultimately surprise the reader in the process.
After researching on the background of the novel I found out that ‘Jack Maggs’ is a sort of tribute to Charles Dickens ‘Great Expectations’ Now I confess that I have never read it so I don’t know how it compares but as a stand-alone novel I found ‘Jack Maggs’ to be highly addictive. Carey does not tell you a straight story, instead the novel give you new secrets about the characters pasts so in order to find out how the book develops you have to continue reading to the last chapter, where everything is revealed.
I also liked the way Carey made his characters realistic. I guarantee that you will not root for any characters as they all have their good and bad sides. In reality every human has their quirks and this is brought out. Carey has a way of presenting his protagonists as innocent people but slowly turning nasty towards the last few chapters.
Really there’s nothing left to say but if you do think of picking up this wonderful little book make sure you have some time one your hands, it’s one of those novels that will keep you glued to your seat! (in fact I was picking it up at every available moment)