Paperback : 26 Apr 2001
Read an extract from: English Passengers
SynopsisIt is 1857 and the Reverend Geoffrey Wilson has set out for Tasmania, hoping to find the true site of the Garden of Eden. But the journey is turning out to be less than straightforward – dissent is growing between him and sinister racial-theorist Dr Potter, and, unknown to both, the ship they have hurriedly chartered is in fact a Manx smuggling vessel, fleeing British customs. In Tasmania the aboriginal people have been fighting a desperate battle against British invaders, and, as the passengers will discover, the island is now far from being an earthly paradise …
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'A book shouting with life...a novel that would be intriguing just for its ambition, but is deeply impressive in the fine grain of its achievement. Every page fizzes with linguistic invention, and the interleaving of high comedy with dramatic terror is expertly handled... English Passengers deserves to be welcomed into port with a riot of bunting and prizes.'
'An engrossing, deftly constructed, serious but very readable book...a very impressive performance: angry and ironic by turns, and confident enough to let the story speak for itself.'
'Kneale covers a lot of ground, but the meticulously researched historical details and background are artfully deployed and always keep the novel afloat rather than threatening to sink it. What is really striking about the novel, however, is its structure and technique... A jolly good yarn, a careful and vivid historical re-enactment and, above all, a tour de force of technical control and stamina.'
'[A] breathtakingly good novel...funny, savage, compassionate, a brilliant enactment of ideological clashes and the opportunism and sacrifice of the colonial adventure, this is a big, mind-expanding book in every respect.'
'A dashing historical novel, grand in conception but carefully and steadily executed...one of the most impressive things about English Passengers is the extent to which it revives our interest in history and truth...The voices and information that crowd English Passengers have been marshalled to support a compelling adventure story with subversive undertones...expertly told.',
'One of the most enjoyable and interesting reads I have had in a long time...One of the most shameful events in the history of the British Empire...is fearlessly explored with clear-sighted intelligence and unflinching imagination...English Passengers is a fascinating story, richly told: a major work by a major talent.'
'An engrossing and enjoyable read, the sort of novel that few contemporary writers have either the imagination or the stamina to sustain.'
'Triumphant...Although it contains much that is harrowing, English Passengers is also often hilarious. Tart wit generates caustically funny scenes. Relishably ironic fates are dealt out to
the book's more dislikeable characters...From Patrick White and Thomas Kenneally to David Malouf and Peter Carey, colonial Australia has been fortunate in the quality of its literary chroniclers...English Passengers takes Kneale into this distinguished company.'
'Fantastic. One of the best books I've read since we started doing this programme. It's an absolute cracker. Run out everbody and get copies.'
Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4
Size : 129 x 198mm
Pages : 480
Published : 26 Apr 2001
Publisher : Penguin
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