4 journalers for this copy...
I'm taking this book to Dana's party to give to tamarabk. This is a wonderful book and I hope she enjoys it as much as I do.
I really enjoyed the historical descriptions of the early colonization of Tasmania and its effects on the aboriginal people - disturbing as they were, I didn't know anything about this part of history and found it to be very interesting, educational, and yes, infuriating. I also enjoyed the short glimpses into the penal system at that time, which I found equally fascinating.
My only complaint I is that I did not get nearly enough of the female characters in the book. There were several intriguing women I was hoping we would spend more time with. Oh, well, you can't have everything and this really was a fascinating read.
As an Australian descended from nineteeth century settlers, I found parts of this book made uncomfortable reading at times. I have no idea whether my ancestors behaved well towards Aboriginies but I can only hope so. Living in England it is very easy for me not to think about the plight of many of today's Aboriginals; this novel has given me food for thought which is a very good thing indeed.
On the lighter side, this book was laugh-out-loud funny, incredibly witty and humorous. I particularly loved the sections of the book narrated by Captain Kewley, the Reverend Wilson and Doctor Potter. I did not forsee how sinister the ending of the book would be, however. Kneale brilliantly wrote these characters and their individual voices were so distinct. I am still laughing, for example, over the pompous and sanctimonious Wilson bemoaning, on his arrival in Cape Town, that the letter from his poor, delicate wife seemed to be largely about the arrival of a new dress shop in Highgate - by now the reader realises that she was delighted to be rid of him! This book is full of choice set pieces like this.
Finally, it is wonderful to read a book set in Tasmania. I have been to many of the places described in the novel and I can vouch for the beauty of the wilderness, but also for the awfulness of Port Arthur, particularly the silent prison, the building of which still exists. Hobart is still a sleepy town - nothing much has changed on that score!! Click here for more information about modern-day Flinders Island.
I also loved the descriptions of Melbourne - some of my ancestors on my mother's side arrived in Melbourne in 1861, just four years after the passengers in the novel visited the city. I know Melbourne extremely well and it no longer resembles the frontier town that Kneale tells about!!
This book did not win the Booker Prize (it lost to Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood). While I love Margaret Atwood, and enjoyed Blind Assassin, English Passengers is by far, all-round, the better book. I think Atwood must have won for stylistic reasons.
Well, I have gone on long enough about this book... thanks again alsomama for recommending this to me so long ago. I am sending this book now to vi0let who I hope enjoys it as much as I.
Off to vi0let in Finland... I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!