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Oscar and Lucinda (1988)

by Peter Carey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,760532,297 (3.77)400
Set on board an ocean liner travelling to Australia in 1864, this novel is both a love story and an historical tour de force that relates the developing romance between Oscar Hopkins, an Oxford seminarian, and Lucinda Leplastrier, a Sydney heiress with a fascination for glass.
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» See also 400 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Gambling and glass and a love story.
  brakketh | Sep 5, 2019 |
Oh do just go and read it. Touching, strange, and with the Carey magic touch. What a writer! Man Booker Prize worthy. Oh yeah, it won. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Apr 25, 2019 |
Review: Oscar & Lucinda by Peter Carey. 2 Stars 06/24/2018

This was a very tough book for me I just couldn’t get into it but I did read to the end. However, I don’t know what I read but I’m determined to try again another time. I already knew Peter Carey wrote precise, over my head books (for me anyway) but I still gave it a chance when I choose the novel. I was having a bad week with some confusion so I can’t blame the author. I won’t even try to review a book when I don’t understand what it was about so I’ll post an Amazon review instead.

Editorial Review from Amazon : If Illywhacker astounded us with its imagination richness, this latest Carey novel does so again, with a masterly sureness of touched added. It’s a story, in a sense the story, of mid-19th century England and Australia, narrated by a man of our time and therefore permeated with modern consciousness. Oscar is a shy, gawky, Oxford-educated Church of England minister with a tortured conscience; Lucinda is a willful, accented Australian who sinks her family inheritance into a glass factory’ and the bases for the star-crossed love that develops between them is a shared passion for gambling. They meet on the boat to Sidney, Oscar becomes Lucinda’s lodger after being defrocked for his “vice” and, finally leaving a trail of scandal behind them, they construct a glass church in the Outback, their wildest gamble yet. The narrative techniques though which Carey dramatizes the effects of English religious beliefs and social mores upon frontier Australia smack of both Dickens and of Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Women; but he doesn’t lean upon his sources, he uses them, for his own subtle and controlled purposes. His prose (full of such flashes as “A cormorant broke from the surface. Like an improbable idea tearing the membrane between dream and life”0 is an almost constant source of surprise, and he is clearly in the forefront of that literary brilliance now flowing out of Australia. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Aug 27, 2018 |
The first 3/4 of the book are sedate and conventional, following the titular characters through their youth. Carey is a great writer, so it's not particularly boring, but there's no real dynamism in the plot, other than Oscar's break from his demented father and his grapplings with God.

The real story starts on about page 330, but it's worth the wait. It's an Australian Heart of Darkness with an added love story and it's utterly gripping. Here I felt like I was reading the author of the Kelly Gang and Tristan Smith. Gripping and terrible, and I suppose the back story is necessary for the effect, but maybe not quite so much of it. ( )
  yarb | Sep 12, 2017 |
Carey's descriptions of people and countryside are wonderful. And Oscar Hopkins and Lucinda Leplastrier are two of the most interesting characters I have encountered. I can well see why this book won the Booker Prize in 1988. (One of the other books on the shortlist that year was The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie so it had stiff competition.)

The story takes place in both England and Australia. Oscar Hopkins grew up in Devon as the son of a preacher in a Christian sect called the Plymouth Brethren, an ecumenical movement that did not hold with the celebration of Christmas or other fripperies. Lucinda Leplastrier was Australian born although her parents were English. Her father fell off a horse and died and her mother decided to stay and continue farming their land near Parramatta, which is now part of Sydney but in the 1800s was a separate city. When her mother succumbed to illness Lucinda was left an orphan but quite wealthy. Oscar was also sort of an orphan as his mother had died when he was young and he abandoned his father to go live with the Anglican minister because he felt God wanted him to follow the Anglican faith. Oscar went to Oxford to learn to be a minister himself and while there he started gambling in order to support himself. Lucinda, meanwhile, went to Sydney and purchased a glassworks with her inheritance. In the course of doing so she fell in with two men who would have a lasting effect on her life. The first was The Reverend Dennis Hasset, an Anglican vicar but also a man who had written and lectured about glass. The second was Mr. d'Abbs, an accountant recommended to Lucinda to help her look after her money. d'Abbs was responsible for introducing Lucinda to gambling and Hasset became the object of Lucinda's desire. Lucinda went on a visit to England to either get married or encourage Hasset to propose to her. On the return trip, taken on the huge steamship Leviathan, she met Oscar who was emigrating to Australia. Of course two gamblers will eventually play cards together but during this game a bad storm comes up. Oscar, who is deeply afraid of the sea, thinks this is a judgment and resolves to give up gambling. Nevertheless he falls back into the habit and he and Lucinda end up playing poker in his living room in the house he is entitled to as the vicar of Randwick. When they are discovered at dawn by a church deacon Oscar is turfed out of the church. Lucinda takes pity on him and brings him to her home where the two of them live quite chastely. Lucinda, thinking to put Oscar at ease, tells him she is in love with Hasset although she now loves Oscar. Oscar loves Lucinda but is willing to sacrifice to make Lucinda happy. He proposes that he will deliver a glass church that Lucinda's factory will make to Hasset's congregation in Boat Harbour. They make a wager of their inheritances, he that he will get it to Boat Harbour by Easter and she that he won't. Then Lucinda does all in her power to make Oscar's wager succeed. This unusual proposition is hampered by Oscar's fear of water as the sea is the usual route from Sydney to Boat Harbour. The final chapters detail Oscar's overland trip to Boat Harbour. The ending was a great surprise to me and I will leave it a surprise to any future readers.

Definitely a book worth reading and I would agree that it has its place on the 1001 Books to Read before you Die list. ( )
1 vote gypsysmom | Aug 7, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Careyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Le Tan, PierreCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Syrier, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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for Alison Summers with all my love
First words
If there was a bishop, my mother would have him to tea.
You will preach what you do not believe to men who do not care.
She understood as women often do more easily than men, that the declared meaning of a spoken sentence is only its overcoat, and the real meaning lies underneath its scarves and buttons.
She knew the lovely contradictory nature of glass ... that glass is a thing in disguise, an actor, is not solid at all, but a liquid, that an old sheet of glass will not only take on a royal and purplish tinge but will reveal its true liquid nature by having grown fatter at the bottom and thinner at the top, and that even while it is as frail as the ice on a Parramatta puddle, it is stronger under compression than Sydney sandstone, that it is invisible, solid, in short, a joyous and paradoxical thing, as good a material as any to build a life from.
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