London,1837. Jack Maggs, raised and deported as a criminal, has returned from Australia, in secret and at great risk. What does he want after all these years, and why is he so interested in the comings and goings at a plush townhouse in Great Queen Street? And why is Jack himself an object of such interest to Tobias Oates, celebrated author, ...
London,1837. Jack Maggs, raised and deported as a criminal, has returned from Australia, in secret and at great risk. What does he want after all these years, and why is he so interested in the comings and goings at a plush townhouse in Great Queen Street? And why is Jack himself an object of such interest to Tobias Oates, celebrated author, amateur hypnotist and fellow burglar - in this case of people's minds, of their histories and inner phantoms? This is a thrilling story of mesmerism and possession, of dangerous bargains and illicit love against the backdrop of Victorian London.
This book is interesting and the personal history of the characters is the driving force of the plot. Interestingly enough it keeps you just about intersted, but the denouement is too expected, too deliberate to be believable. Certainly not as much of an achievement as "Oscar and Lucinda".
Publishers Weekly, 1997-12-01 If any contemporary author has the goods to pull off a variation on Dickens, Carey (The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith) is certainly the man. With great panache, he executes an abundantly atmospheric and rollickingly entertaining reprise of Great Expectations. In 1837, a mysterious manæhulking, silent, missing two fingersæsteps off the coach in London. His name, we eventually learn, is Jack Maggs (read Abel Magwitch), and he has illegally returned to England from Australia, where he was brutally used in the penal colony. He's a dead man if discovered, but he's obsessed with finding his (adoptive) son, whom he's been supporting for yearsæfacts we glean in small, suspenseful increments. Circumstances propel Maggs into the home of Sir Percival Buckle, where he is quickly employed as a footman, and where he catches the eye of a saucy chambermaid with a tragic past. An attack of tic doloureux brings Maggs to the attention of ambitious young writer Tobias Oates, who employs the newly fashionable "science" of animal magnetism to draw out the "phantom" in Maggs's subconscious that is causing the pain. Under hypnosis, Maggs reveals some of his secrets, and Oates determinesæwithout informing Maggsæto make his reputation with a novel about the criminal mind. Oates has other tawdry secretsæan affair with his sister-in-law, monstrous debts, the legacy of a terrible childhoodæbut he is protected by the veneer of respectability. Indeed, the thin line between respectability and ruin, the corrupting power of money and the cruelty of class distinctions are themes that Carey rings with adroit authority. As the plot rockets along with surprises at every turn, Carey creates a vivid, multifaceted picture of 1800s London, especially the squalid and tormented lives of the poor and the criminal underclass. The racy, pungent dialogue is faithful to period idioms and to the muscular vulgarity of Cockney slang. Best of all, Carey's memorable characters can stand proudly in the pantheon beside those of Dickens. If one book earns the accolade of "irresistible'' this year, it should be this novel. (Feb.) FYI: The movie version of Oscar and Lucinda, Carey's Booker Prize-winning novel, will be released in December. Viking will publish a tie-in edition in trade paperback.
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