English Passengers

by Matthew Kneale | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 038549744x Global Overview for this book
Registered by alsomama of Seattle, Washington USA on 3/15/2003
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by alsomama from Seattle, Washington USA on Saturday, March 15, 2003
This is one of the best books I read last year. It was recommended by JennyO who sent me a copy. This copy arrived today in a bookbox, just after I promised tamarabk I'd look for a copy for her. I didn't have to go far to look! Told from the point of view of many different characters, the story unfolds over time and place and comes together to give you a detailed snapshot of early Tasmanian history. The author has gone to great effort to provide the perfect ending that neatly ties all the loose ends up. ** Note ** Find a map of Tasmania to refer to as you read the book. You'll wonder about the location of the various sites mentioned in the book.

Journal Entry 2 by alsomama at -- Wild released somewhere in Seattle in Seattle, Washington USA on Saturday, March 15, 2003
Released on Saturday, March 15, 2003 at Dana's Party in Seattle, Washington USA.

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.

Journal Entry 3 by tamarabk from Lynnwood, Washington USA on Sunday, March 16, 2003
Earlier this week alsomama was telling me about this great book English Passengers I simply had to read. She generously offered to keep her eye out for a copy and then, lo and behold, it arrived at her house in a bookbox, so she brought it for me tonight to a party given by fellow bookcrosser xacharias. I am really looking forward to reading it since it comes so highly reccomended.

Journal Entry 4 by tamarabk from Lynnwood, Washington USA on Thursday, March 27, 2003
This was an excellent piece of historical fiction - painstakingly researched and executed by the author, Matthew Kneale. This is a suspensefully told story of religion, greed, race, history, madness, and politics. The story is told from several, seemingly disconnected points of view, from England, at sea, and from Tasmania - in the beginning weaving in and out of time to set the stage for what is to come. As the novel progresses we begin to see how these individual stories are connected, and we know that these characters have set off onto a mighty collision course.
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.

Journal Entry 5 by tamarabk from Lynnwood, Washington USA on Thursday, March 27, 2003
I am sending this to bookcrosser CBCD in New Jersey - I hope she enjoys it!!

Journal Entry 6 by CBCD from Shepherdstown, West Virginia USA on Saturday, April 05, 2003
Received this in the mail. I read good reviews of it - I look forward to reading it. After I read it I will send it to LeighBCD.

Journal Entry 7 by CBCD from Shepherdstown, West Virginia USA on Sunday, June 08, 2003
Interesting story, told from multiple perspectives. Folly and fury, guilt and revenge in Tasmania. I quite enjoyed it. Sent onward to LeighBCD in London.

Journal Entry 8 by LeighBCD on Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Wow! What a great surprise! Thank you so much CBCD - this has made my day, I am really thrilled. I have wanted to read this ever since, funnily enough, alsomama told me what a great book this was - it seems kind of fitting that she should have registered this copy. I will definitely read this soon and will journal again and keep it moving etc etc. I have been to Tasmania and have visited some of the convicts spots - I will let you all know whether I think this is true to life.

Journal Entry 9 by LeighBCD on Monday, March 15, 2004
reserved as a RABCK for vi0let further to the ESL book relay.

Journal Entry 10 by LeighBCD on Monday, April 26, 2004
This was a wonderful novel... I relished every word. It is so rare, it seems to me, that one can find a novel that is entertaining yet at the same time conveys such profound thoughts and ideas.

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.

Journal Entry 11 by LeighBCD at to vi0let in Espoo, Finland -- Controlled Releases on Monday, May 10, 2004
Released on Monday, May 10, 2004 at to vi0let in Espoo, Finland Controlled Releases.

Off to vi0let in Finland... I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Journal Entry 12 by LeighBCD on Friday, May 14, 2004
This book is now with vi0let.

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