Top positive review
34 people found this helpful
Thought provoking and funny
on 23 September 2001
English Passengers is one of the best books I've read in a while. Told through the eyes of it's various protagonists, it combines adventure and slapstick on the one hand and high drama on the other. The acute and shameful ignorance of the English settlers in nineteenth century Austrailia is highlighted in the journals of Dr Potter, a racial theorist, and his arch enemy the Reverend Wilson, who is convinced that he's on a divine mission to locate the Garden of Eden. They unwittingly charter a crew of amateur smugglers in order to reach Tasmania, which turns out not to be the Utopia they'd imagined, but a desolate, brutalised colony in which almost the entire native population has been wiped out. Peevay, an aborigine whose mother was kipnapped and raped by an escaped convict, charts the decline of his people with stoicism and compassion, that is, until Dr Potter's experiments drive him to seek revenge.
This is a beautifully observed book that races along at cracking pace. Its highly entertaining and thought-provoking. Safe to say, everyone gets their just desserts. I highly recommend it.