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The Hamilton Case [Kindle Edition]

Michelle de Kretser
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

The place is Ceylon, the time the 1930s. Set amid tea plantations, corruption and the backwash of empire, this is a world teetering on the edge of chaos. Sam Obeysekere is a Ceylonese lawyer, a perfect product of empire. His family, which once had wealth and influence, starts to crack open as political change comes to the island, and Sam's glamorous father dies leaving gambling debts. At the heart of the novel is the Hamilton case, a murder scandal that shakes the upper echelons of island society; Sam's involvement in it makes his name but sets his life on course of disappointment.

Product Description


"A novel so delicious that you have to keep stopping as you read, for fear of finishing too soon" (Jane Shilling Sunday Telegraph)

"A bewitching utterly captivating blend of intellectual muscle and story-telling magic" (Independent)

"Reminiscent of The Remains of the Day. De Kretser has given us the classic whodunnit wrapped up in a beautiful and tragic literary novel" (Vogue)

"Haunting, lush and delicately nuanced" (Observer)

"Rewarding, thought-provoking, witty and often disconcerting, the novel takes the reader into a world of transformations - conjuring a fiction which is tantalizingly vivid" (Times Literary Supplement)

Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph

A novel so delicious that you have to keep stopping as you read, for fear of finishing too soon

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 417 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0316735485
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (31 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #170,363 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a rare treat 8 Oct. 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is one of those rare gifts where you pick it up not expecting much, only to find a novel with astonishingly beautiful prose and use of language and a story that you don't want to end. It is reminiscent of Marquez and Allende at her best, as well as Conrad in the way it captures the pulsating vegetation threating to overtake hard-won civilization on a small island, but also very new as it captures a different country and series of events. I would recommend this book to anyone and it will become a staple gift to other book lovers. I have not read a book that I enjoyed so much in a long time.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Cruelty 30 Jan. 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
So intricate and crafted is the prose in this novel it is a shock that you realise that its theme is cruelty, emotional and physical that is replicated through generations. It is the most insecure characters, the hero Sam included, who can cause most hurt just as the residue of colonialism causes tension and fragmentation in Ceylonese society
There are moments - many - in this novel when you feel that the author has expressed an idea or understanding that you have felt but never articulated and the reader is both grateful and full of admiration for the writer's skill.
The book is also about how we try to make narratives out of the chaotic events of our lives and as a narrative it excels.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose, weak narrative 1 Dec. 2007
The Hamilton Case relates, in polished, lyrical style, the life story of an isolated, arrogant and moderately successful Ceylonese lawyer, Stanley Obeysekere. It is not a pleasant life story either - his reckless and feckless father is overshadowed by his detached and dysfunctional mother, his career marred by his overweening ambition, damaging jealousies and intransient intolerance, and his ability to form rewarding relationships with others undermined by his obsession and his guilt surrounding his curiously under-developed sister.

The glory of this novel lies in its prose - musicality drips off every page, so much so that one is lulled into a false sense of beauty and often has to re-read a paragraph just to make sure that such finely crafted words really could have said something so horrific. The story - even the action surround the Hamilton case, the murder of white farmer, in which Stanley makes his name - is consistently understated and the delivery always deviously subtle. The substance of the story itself though is insipid and, frankly, dull. It's a shame that such fine words have been wasted on something so insubstantial: it's all sugar and no meat. I cannot understand how this book could have won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, but it did.
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4.0 out of 5 stars How things might have been different 25 July 2013
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Although unlikeable in many respects and clearly an unreliable narrator, as in the portrayal of his charismatic rival Jaya, Stanley Alban Marriott Obeysekere, nicknamed "Sam", gripped me from the first page with his account of growing up in the early C20 as the grandson of a "mudaliyar" who had gained wealth and influence by assisting the British colonial administration of Ceylon. A successful lawyer with hopes of being the first "native" to be appointed as a judge by the British, Sam's decision to involve himself in "The Hamilton Case" has unforeseen consequences. In all this he remains wedded to his perception of the British way of life: "his veins have run with Bovril".

From the outset, an unexpected wry or brutal observation hits home, as when we are told how Sam's grandfather met his death after gallantly leaping into a lake to save a young English girl who had fallen overboard. In "extreme distress at seeing her ... a sweet girl on the threshold of womanhood, being manhandled by a native," a friend "in understandable terror, confusion and distress...brought her oar crashing down" on his skull. For this she was of course absolved of all blame.

On reaching Part 3, I seemed to have strayed into a different book which had lost the plot. The short chapters cease to be so alluring as they flit between characters: Sam's eccentric mother, his wife, son, several servants, etcetera. Substance gives way to form, in a style that begins to pall - too wordy and contrived, over-poetical. Sometimes the prose is beautiful and striking, but too often it appears self-indulgent padding.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not sure I found the plot 1 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I purchased this book set in Ceylon to read on my recent holiday to Sri Lanka. I found it Ok to read but found the plot very thin and I am really not sure why it is called the Hamilton Case when this seems to form a very small part of the book. The only thing that kept me reading was the places referred to in the book most of which I visited whilst on holiday.
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