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Oscar and Lucinda [Paperback]

Peter Carey
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

3 Feb 2011

Oscar Hopkins is an Oxford seminarian with a passion for gambling. Lucinda Leplastrier is a Sydney heiress with a fascination for glass. The year is 1864. When they meet on the boat to Australia their lives will be forever changed . . .

Daring, rich, intense and bizarre, Peter Carey's Booker prize-winning novel is a brilliant achievement - a moving love story and a historical tour de force that is also powerfully contemporary.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (3 Feb 2011)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0571270166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571270163
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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 favour 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 grown-up 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The Booker-winning novel, also shortlisted for the Best of the Booker in 2008.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice guys finish last 15 Aug 2005
By Bianca
Reviewer: Bianca from Marlow UK
All that denial and pain and hopes of redemption getting dashed... I felt like my heart had been attacked with a cheesegrater by the time I finished, this book is SAVAGELY sad. Squint, though, and you will see a glittering dark humour in the tragedy as unworldly Oscar is brought down to earth with a crunch and independent Lucinda sees the precipice she approaches too late so high does she hold her head. But they are the most wonderful characters (of course they are, if Carey hadn't made me feel so tenderly for them I wouldn't want to beat him up right now).
Carey's prose has a haunting sensuality to it, especially considering that any sex which does go on is very much on the periphery, just out of sight. Instead, like the luminous descriptions of sea life so lovingly written by Oscar's bible bashing father, every sentence tingles with the beauty of minute observation. It heightens your senses so delicately that whenever pain and discomfort descend upon a character (most of the time) it positively stings. And wrap up warm when reading the Devon chapters.
A 'Spectator' review calls it Dickensian, which should give you some idea of the scope, the complexity, and the universe of characters delineated within. Like Dickens you will find Carey has an eye for detail and an appreciation of the ridiculous which is often biting. These frail creatures play out their lives on the backdrop of colonial Australia, a place where progress is at war with the harsh forces of nature and frail notions of 'civilisation' tainted with the blood of the culture it seeks to replace.
And I haven't even mentioned the gambling, but then I think that it is better understood as a device, a prism would be an appropriate comparison considering the glass theme.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's all in the telling 25 April 2009
Never has a story of two such peculiar individuals been so beautifully told. At first, I'll admit the novel for me was slow to begin with and being an impatient reader, I struggled to get into it. Although please carry on, for although the plot will not necessarily drive you quickly onwards, the characters Carey creates will hopefully grip you as they did me and almost force you to carry on reading. Simply, there are no disposable characters; the story is pushed forward by the actions of the characters and not what is usually seen where writers create simple characters to fit into the story (Think Rosencrantz & Guildenstein).

The setting of the novel is equally impressive; Carey brings 19th century Australia back into existence for the purpose of shaping and testing his creations, and it is through these conflicts that you will learn to love and hate the author for what he does to your characters. Carey isn't satisfied to give a simple description of Australia, he must make sure you feel the anger of the natives, the pressures of society in 19th century Sydney, the atmosphere in the gambling houses.

Running throughout the novel are many themes, some grand, some not, but all relevant. For instance what makes a good father? or Son?, what are the aspects of faith? is love always an obsession? Every chapter has within it a deeper story to tell.
All this adds up to an amazing book, one that I'm sure I'll read countless times in my life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic 30 April 2008
It is difficult to describe the scope and artistry of this thoroughly beautiful book. From the outset the two characters are characterized with the utmost sympathy and, yes, humour. But it is a sad, sad tale, and ultimately a lush portrayal of love and the difficulty people find in connecting with others. And it is told in such a fresh, unique way! Although in some sense deeply rooted in its period it is still a timeless portrayal of society and the pressures it places on each of us to conform.

I love the great understatement near the beginning of the book, something like, "Lucinda's parents had raised a square peg in a country that was made up entirely of round holes."

I always love books where two characters from completely different worlds collide. Let's face it, this book was never going to have a happy ending, although it would have been great if it had. I'm glad that the film version was changed; both it and the book are immensly entertaining in their own ways (Cate Blanchett is superlatively ethereal as Lucinda in the film).
The trials and troubles of both characters are lovely, and I thoroughly loved the '19th century set pieces,' that the book opens with. An eccentric view of the lives of two people. Both are forced to sink or swim... One swims, the other sadly sinks, but only after they both play their parts in one of the greatest romances in literature.
Rewarding, thoroughly deserving (for once) of the Booker Prize, I think this is one of the best books ever written.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absurd and Delightful 7 Mar 2005
By Keiblob
I can understand why people may give up on this book but alas! Do continue, for the time you devote will pay off spectacularly.
It took me a few attempts to finish reading this novel; Carey's intensly descriptive attention to detail takes some getting used to. However, by the time I had really 'got into it' my personal dedication to the characters had become great and I became engrossed by the two protagonists: Oscar and Lucinda.
The short and neatly contained chapters act almost as stories in themselves and within these small bursts of narrative subtly emerges an outline of the harsh reality of a nation in its infancy. Like the English in an unsympathetic Australian climate we see two peculiars, a square peg and an odd bod, raging and scurrying through the expectations of society.
Nothing prepered me for the impact this book had on me and its electrifying ending shook me to the core. The story and its protagonists are absurd and obscure, intense and strangely romantic but moreover; utterly delightful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another good book by Peter Carey which was cheap and in good condition.
Published 11 days ago by W. Osborne
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Chris McKeefry
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
I am surprised this has an average of 4 stars only. In my view it is a masterpiece. It is structured in a strange way so that we don't understand the history of the family. Read more
Published 2 months ago by hfffoman
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
To be honest, I didn't expect to like this as the characters are rather odd. In fact it is so well executed that it is a riveting read and the twist at the end was totally... Read more
Published 2 months ago by DJEKing
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Starts off a bit slow but couldn't put it down in the end
Published 2 months ago by Donal Carpenter
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart of glass
This book won Carey his (first) Booker prize. I can understand why it won. It's a long, brilliant, complicated story told through dozens of larger than life characters; it's... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Stephen Hudson
4.0 out of 5 stars Not waving but drowning...
Like a number of other winners of the Booker Prize, Oscar and Lucinda is a tour de force of characterisation. Read more
Published 4 months ago by John Goddard
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book
Richly drawn characters and intricate scenery. Utterly loved it. A real story- funny, tense and heartbreaking- an epic plot and a cinematic ending.
Published 8 months ago by Peter Groves
4.0 out of 5 stars Epic and Engrossing
This is a long novel populated by characters who are not always easy to get along with but are somehow still compelling. I can see why it won awards. Read more
Published 10 months ago by E. A. Banks
2.0 out of 5 stars I have given up on this and will not try Peter Carey again
I have only read half of this before giving up, as it is such a strange way of writing and not very interseting. Unreal characters and a reallly slow story
Published 18 months ago by P Hadley
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