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Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
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Oscar and Lucinda (1988)

by Peter Carey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,946391,951 (3.78)301
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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
A fantastic Carey book. The incredible saga of the converging narratives of Oscar and lucinda. Yes it is dense and at times close to dickens in the level of detail particularly in terms of characterisation. This only serves to make the story stick in your heart and mind long after the last page. A book to read before you die certainly. ( )
  polarbear123 | May 30, 2014 |
Lovely, tragic story of two people who just never quite make it for so many reasons. ( )
  notmyrealname | Jan 23, 2014 |
I didn't actually read this movie tie-in version. The text is the same, obviously, but my paperback has an old print of the Crystal Palace on the cover, all undergraduate intro to architecture -style.

This is one of my favorite books EVAR. It's weird, gothic, grotesque, delicate, intricate, brilliant (wonderfully well-written, and also in the sense of evoking light), horrifying, and exhilirating. None of which words mean much by themselves so I'll try and explain better.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of logic, organicism, and irrationality in each of the book's major components: characters' attitudes towards religion; gambling; the conception and realization of the glass church; love in various forms. These three forces (phenomena?) drive the plot as they come together, or into conflict time after time.

Clearly i'm not so good at reviewing books. Just...go read this one. ( )
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
It's long, at times it's tedious, but it is a book that remains with you long after the last page. The characters of both Oscar and Lucinda are so well drawn and their interaction is told with such tension that it is painful but with generous splashes of humor that just sparkles. I agree with some of the reviewers who feel the ending somewhat loses steam, but that is very minor. Great writing. If you enjoy a historical love story set in a far away land involving two people who are far from ordinary, try "Oscar and Lucinda." ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 17, 2013 |
The first of Carey’s novels I read was True History of the Kelly Gang, which, at the time, I classified as “good but not great,” only to find that it grew on me the more I thought about it afterwards. His first novel, Bliss, I didn’t find particularly compelling, so I’ve skipped over his second novel, Illywhacker, even though I own it. Instead we come to his third book, Oscar and Lucinda, which won him his first Booker Prize and could safely be considered his break-out novel.

An unconventional love story, Oscar and Lucinda is a historical novel set in the mid-19th century, dealing with the lives of Australian heiress Lucinda Leprastier and English reverend Oscar Hopkins. The novel tracks both of their lives from childhood, as they develop the gambling addiction which eventually brings them together, and turns into a bizarre quest to transport a pre-fabricated glass church across four hundred kilometres of Australian bush to a remote coastal town.

Unlike True History of the Kelly Gang, and even unlike Bliss, Oscar and Lucinda has a tone to it which one might describe as “comic.” The characters and locales are simultaneously realistic yet exaggerated. Carey slips in and out of different character’s heads, often in the same paragraph, and less important characters are often portrayed through the lens of some particular social quirk or obsession which colours their reaction towards either Oscar or Lucinda. This reminded me, more than anything else, of the writing style of Terry Pratchett – characters in the 19th century style who range from vain to petty to frightened to Machiavellian. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s certainly very unusual, and can make things difficult to follow. Nevertheless, Carey paints an evocative picture of colonial Sydney – filthy, parochial, sub-tropical, and avaricious, yet the jewel in Australia’s crown and a city unlike anywhere else in the world – which worked quite well for me as I happened to be visiting Sydney while reading the first half.

The other odd thing about Oscar and Lucinda is that, after a relatively light and comical 450 pages – pages dealing with death and disgrace and misfortune, certainly, but still pages narrated in a humourously whimsical manner – the final 50 pages suddenly plunge into dark and terrifying territory indeed. The very final chapter could fairly be described as a horrific nightmare. I mean this in the best possible way; it came completely out of the left field for me, and was stunning and powerful. Perhaps if I’d been sharper I would have noticed the clues scattered along the way. (I did notice a few of them, but misinterpreted them.) The novel begins strangely, narrated by Oscar’s great-granddaughter, who then fades into near-irrelevance. If it had begun more conventionally, or if I’d been paying closer attention, I would have realised Oscar’s fate was spelt out in the novel’s very first paragraph.

Oscar and Lucinda is a good book. It’s a very odd book, a very unique book, because Peter Carey is really a one-of-a-kind writer. That doesn’t necessarily mean I always enjoy the way he writes – there are more than a few places in Oscar and Lucinda where I was bored – but viewed as a whole, this novel is bold, unique and excellent. It contains a number of scenes that will stick in my memory, and the ending is jaw-dropping. Perhaps, in retrospect, Oscar and Lucinda will grow on me as True History of the Kelly Gang did. ( )
1 vote edgeworth | Jun 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Careyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Le Tan, PierreCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Syrier, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
for Alison Summers with all my love
First words
If there was a bishop, my mother would have him to tea.
Quotations
You will preach what you do not believe to men who do not care.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679777504, Paperback)

Oscar Hopkins is a high-strung preacher's kid with hydrophobia and noisy knees. Lucinda Leplastrier is a frizzy-haired heiress who impulsively buys a glass factory with the inheritance forced on her by a well-intentioned adviser. In the early parts of this lushly written book, author Peter Carey renders the seminal turning points in his protagonists' childhoods as exquisite 19th-century set pieces. Young Oscar, denied the heavenly fruit of a Christmas pudding by his cruelly stern father, forever renounces his father's religion in favor of the Anglican Church. "Dear God," Oscar prays, "if it be Thy will that Thy people eat pudding, smite him!" Lucinda's childhood trauma involves a beautiful doll bought by her struggling mother with savings from the jam jar; in a misguided attempt to tame the doll's unruly curls, young Lucinda mutilates her treasure beyond repair. Neither of these coming-of-age stories quite explains how the grownup Oscar and Lucinda each develop a guilty passion for gambling. Oscar plays the horses while at school, and Lucinda, now an orphaned heiress, finds comfort in a game of cards with an odd collection of acquaintances. When the two finally meet, on board a ship bound for New South Wales, they are bound by their affinity for risk, their loneliness, and their awkwardly blossoming (but unexpressed) mutual affection. Their final high-stakes folly--transporting a crystal palace of a church across (literally) godforsaken terrain--strains plausibility, and events turn ghastly as Oscar plays out his bid for Lucinda's heart. Yet even the unconvincing plot turns are made up for by Carey's rich prose and the tale's unpredictable outcome. Although love proves to be the ultimate gamble for Oscar and Lucinda, the story never strays too far from the terrible possibility that even the most thunderstruck lovers can remain isolated in parallel lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:24 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A rebellious Anglican priest and a teenaged heiress who buys a glass factory in Australia pursue an unlikely romance.

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