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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 3 December 2014
Read Oscar and Lucinda with my book group. It is a weighty read and almost Dickensian
in its depth and enormous range of characters.
It depicts all the foibles and mannerisms of the mid 19th Century. The narrative jumps from place to place and character to character. It is not an easy read but I found it intriguing and full of sub plots which further enhance the scope of the novel.
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on 3 December 2014
I am halfway through this book. Why would I be interested in the lives of two such awkward people? Answer, because they are written about by Peter Carey and because the world is full of awkward people; myself included. Peter Carey`s writing draws you in and engages you with the life/lives he is describing. His characters are real people and they live in a world that, while different from one`s own, is nevertheless real and comprehensible. How alien and yet familiar from the pen of Peter Carey is nineteenth century Australia.

The first book of his that I stumbled across, quite by chance, was Jack Maggs; which I think is superb. Better, so far, than Oscar and Lucinda, but that is no doubt because I find the storey more interesting. Anyway, I now have two further books by the same auther waiting to be read and I can`t say fairer than that. Perhaps it is because of the period he writes about but to my mind there is a rather Dickensian flavour in the immediacy and detail of his writing but recast for this present age.
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on 11 November 2014
I read this book when it was first published and loved it. I am reading it again with the book club I belong to and am enjoying it just as much. This time round I am enjoying the story just as much and the amazing detail of the writing. There is so much of interest on religion, industrialisation, the role of women and relationships. A great read.
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on 31 January 2010
The cover image is one of the classic book designs of all time - the detail of the black three of hearts being particularly intriguing. The novel is long but far less substantial in my opinion. While reading it I got the feeling that Peter Carey woke up each day relishing knocking out the next two thousand words, month after month - that simple pleasure he had in the writing process leaves the book without any real backbone, it's a facade, an undisciplined exercise in literary showmanship. It's not just him, most well-read authors can't help but be drawn to knocking out period writing of this ilk at some time, even AS Byatt succumbed with 'Possession'.

Key criticisms for me would be that the characters and their fates are largely over-elaborated and under-uninvolving, twisting this way and that at the writer's whim after a good breakfast. The scene where the hero is horrified to find homosexuality exists in Australia while being historically accurate perhaps struck me as being wickedly offensive in its exposition, coming from a contemporary writer. But, far more dubious is that the narrative simply becomes a rip-off of the Werner Herzog film 'Fitzcaralldo'(1982). Watch that DVD and you can also see where key characterisations have been drawn from - Klaus Kinski and Claudia Cardinale! So, for originality and depth I've got to say, the outstanding cover artwork offers far more.
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on 22 June 2012
Oscar and Lucinda are twin spirits, both addicted to the thrill of gambling. They are from entirely different social backgrounds - Oscar raised by an evangelist minister only to tread a new path in his teens when he believes God has spoken to him directly; Lucinda is raised in the Australian outback but inherits a small fortune when orphaned by her parents as a teenager. Both characters are naive and proud and headstrong and shy, and when they finally meet, their friendship is riddled with misunderstanding.

Although the ending is probably inevitable, it still took me completely by surprise. A brilliantly manipulated narrative makes this the most powerful love story I have read. And though the prose is dense, the detail is fascinating and perseverence pays off. Give the characters time to work their magic and you won't be disappointed.
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on 29 April 2014
Like a number of other winners of the Booker Prize, Oscar and Lucinda is a tour de force of characterisation. The characters are rich, varied, sometimes repulsive and often compelling. The storyline sows seeds of tragedy without, and yet continually surprises with moments of hope and grace. This is not an 'easy reading page turner', but it does draw you on and in. I found myself disappointed that a long book was coming to an end, not least because I couldn't see where the ending was going to take us or leave us. Peter Carey has won the Booker Prize twice, and this was definitely the better of his two winners. Go on, take a risk... What's the worst that can happen?
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on 21 October 2014
I found this book very difficult. What kind of book is it meant to be? The cover claims it is a love story, but, if so, it is a most peculiar one. It lacks believability. At first, I thought it was a fantasy a la Marquez (100 years...) or Allende; then a comedy- there are NO normal characters; then a tragedy-the ending?

A gambling, fornicating, murdering clergyman does test credibility....and as for the likelihood of the wager! And, despite his intense phobia of water, he sails half way round the world?
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on 7 July 2014
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 unexpected. The story begins with two unprepossessing characters on opposite sides of the world. The fact that they meet at all is totally remarkable and the description of early Australian settlement life is rather uncomfortable. I still have no empathy for the characters or the situations but the quality of the writing was enthralling.
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on 29 March 2009
This book was recommended to me as an example of expertly spliced narrative strands. But I did not find the weaving of the strands successful at all - many of them were too far apart, so I had to go back in the novel to see at which point we had last seen the character.
It annoyed me when I was forced to read yet another basket full of prettily polished details about yet some other minor character who never managed to engage my interest. Dickens makes characters come to life as part of a community that makes up a fictional world - in 'Oscar and Lucinda', there are only single stories of people who happen to meet.
Another thing that put me off was the insistence with which the author dragged George Eliot into the story, making her appear an insensitive prig. I think an author should not do that sort of thing to a writer whose talent is so much superior to his own.
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on 27 May 2007
I really like Peter Carey's writing so it's hard to write a critical review but I have struggled to read this book and have finally abandoned it at page 155. I think that's a respectable attempt but these days life is too short to waste time reading a book that has not engaged.

The problems with it are that the language whilst inventive and packed full of vivid images, somehow creates a distancing effect. Sadly, I found myself to be only mildly interested in either Oscar or Lucinda. I appreciate their quirkiness, the odd events of their lives that propel them but I just don't care about them at all.

I really loved Carey's recent book Theft and came this thinking I was going to get somethign even better. It did after all win the Booker. But as I read the first 155 pages I couldn't help feeling that the author was still learning his craft. All the talent and unique prose style is there but I felt emotionally shut out from the two main characters. With regret I give up.
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