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Wanting [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Richard Flanagan , Humphrey Bower
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 May 2012
This is a novel of magnificent power and reach from one of the most original and impressive novelists working in the English language today. 1844. In the remote penal colony of Van Diemen's Land, a barefoot aboriginal girl sits for her portrait in a red silk dress. She is Mathinna, the adopted daughter of the island's governor, Sir John Franklin, and his wife, Lady Jane, and the subject of a grand experiment in civilization - one that will determine whether science, Christianity and reason can be imposed in place of savagery, impulse and desire. A quarter of a century passes. Somewhere in the Arctic, Sir John Franklin has disappeared, along with his crew and two ships on an expedition to find the fabled Northwest Passage. England is horrified as reports of cannibalism filter back from search parties, no one more so than the most celebrated novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, for whom Franklin's story becomes a means to plumb the frozen depths of his soul. As several lives become conjoined by unexpected events and tragedies, "Wanting" transforms into a remarkable meditation on the ways in which desire - and its denial - shape our lives.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing; Unabridged edition (7 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1743107463
  • ISBN-13: 978-1743107461
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 13.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 233,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'This is the best novel I have read this year or expect to read for several more.' Sydney Morning Herald 'This is no literary anaesthetic; Wanting shakes us rudely from our stupors, wakes us up to history. There can be no author more passionate or unfettered than Flanagan.' Sydney Morning Herald 'Wanting is a novel you never want to end. As a reader, I can offer no greater accolade.' Canberra Times 'Powerfully and poetically evocative.' Adelaide Advertiser 'Flanagan is a beautiful writer and Wanting is a beautiful and considered addition to his oeuvre.' The Age" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Richard Flanagan was born in Tasmania, in 1961. Regarded internationally as one of Australia's pre-eminent novelist, his multi-award winning novels Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould's Book of Fish and The Unknown Terrorist have been published to popular success and critical acclaim in twenty-seven countries. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan emphasizes, through his ambiguous title, two of the most contradictory characteristics of Queen Victoria's reign---the "wanting," or desire, to conquer other lands and bring "civilization" to them, and the "want," or lack, of empathy and respect for the people and cultures which they deliberately destroy in the process. The same contradictory characteristics are also reflected in (hypocritical) personal relationships: desire is "uncivilized," something to be overcome, though men routinely indulge their passions with those far "beneath" them. These ideas provide the thematic underpinning of this novel.

The novel opens in 1839, as a preacher, overseeing a small group of wretched aborigines exiled from Van Dieman's Land (now Tasmania) to Flinders Island, is mystified by the increasingly "monstrous deaths" of the people under his "protection." He has been careful to demand that the aborigines adopt western dress, eat a western diet, and follow a western way of life. When their leader, King Romeo, dies an agonizing death, the Protector saws off his head for further study by British scientists. Ten pages (and fifteen years) later, Lady Jane Franklin, wife of Sir John Franklin, the former Governor of Van Dieman's Land, is in London, trying to raise money for new expeditions to discover the fate of her explorer husband, his ships, and their crews, lost for nine years in the Arctic. She has displayed the skull of King Romeo to phrenologists, who have concluded that the King was a savage, enslaved by his passions.

Ironies abound.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and Mesmeric 7 April 2010
There have been many novels in the past few years about Britain's colonial past. The best have skilfully avoided the guilty self flagellation that might cause excessive simplification into all whites = bad, all natives = good. Kate Grenville's The Secret River was a beautifully written novel set at the time of the first white settlements in Australia. Richard Flanagan has now done the same for Tazmania - previously known as Van Diemen's Land.

First published in Australia in 2008 and in the UK in hardback in 2009, the paperback edition of Wanting was published in the UK just a couple of weeks ago.

My expectations about this book were sky-high: after all, not every novel comes with a glowing endorsement from the likes of William Boyd stamped on the back cover. Other reviewers from The Times, The Guardian, The TLS, The NYT and the Australian press have joined in the eulogies. So, no pressure then.

Wanting is a fictionalised account of the time when Sir John Franklin, the enthusiastic explorer, was governor of Van Diemen's Land in the 1840s. Sir John Franklin was the explorer who was credited with finding the northwest passage around the world. He was much lauded as a man who died in honourable circumstances during this expedition with his two ships, Erebus and Terror, in the late1840s/early 1850s, and a monument was built to his memory. However, the work of another expert sent to investigate the disappearance of the two ships several years after they set off, Dr John Rae, who spent time with the Inuit people around the Arctic, suggested that Franklin's men had perished because of the unsuitability of the climate and had resorted to cannibalism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wanting 11 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Three stories interweave in this semi-fictional Victorian novel. The author unravels the psyche of Charles Dickens - his affair with Ellen Ternan developing while he produces a play about the explorer Franklin. The second theme concerns Franklin himself, especially his time in Tasmania; this also involves the reflections of his wife, Lady Jane, who is later to fund Dickens' play above. Finally, there is the tragedy of an aboriginal girl, Mathinna, who becomes the object of Lady Jane's attempts to civilize savages. The circle is completed by Dickens' belief that he himself is a savage, redeemed only by self-control (which he eventually loses in the arms of Ellen Ternan). The difficulty is that while all the historical characters are real enough much of the story is possibly not. The real problem is that the best bit of the book - the fate of the girl - should stand alone and be more fully explored.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1850's Van Diemen's Land - Tasmania and the ongoing war between the whites and the blacks is a war the Aborigines can no longer win. With the colonial government offering the last and only realistic option: sanctuary at Wybalenna, the outpost on the islands of Bass Strait in return for their country, it is here amongst the sad broken-down remnants of what was once a proud race that a man called "The Protector" tries to become their savior. But nothing that he did for them could alter the fact that the people who he had bought to God's light were yet dying in a strange way. When the famous polar explorer the newly appointed Governor of Tasmania Sir John Franklin and his wife Lady Jane Franklin travel to Flinders Island, Lady Jane befriends Mathinna, a young aborigine girl initially under the tutelage of The Protector.

Entranced by Mathinna's dancing, her slow way of moving, so distinct and so poignant, Lady Jane transports her back to Hobart as part of a new kind of experiment. Perhaps they can somehow breed some of this "savagery out" of the wayward girl. Cementing Mathinna's introduction into Hobartian society, the Governor and his wife instill in her all that is virtuous in English civilization, along with a favorite red dress, uncomfortable court shoes, and the appointment of a tutor Francis Lazaretto. Unfortunately the marriage between Sir John and Lady Jane is on shaky ground with Lady Jane feeling faint and lost. Watching Mathinna she feels she understands the child, imagining her grief, her needs, and her dreams. Even as the Franklins fall ever-more in love with the girl, Mathinna can't shake the ways of her native world.
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