Oscar and Lucinda, Peter Carey, 1988
- Australia, #18
- Paperback, price unknown (it was on my shelf when I started the project, having been bought, started, and abandoned at some point in the past)
- Read July 2014
- Rating: 3/5
- Recommended for: timid agnostics and unlucky poker players
I am generally a fan of Peter Carey, but this book didn’t really do it for me. It wasn’t bad, but neither was it terribly compelling. I’ve started and abandoned it at least once before; sometimes this doesn’t mean much (I started Tess of the d’Urbervilles three times before I actually got through it, but once I got over the opening inertia I loved it), but in this case the lack of engagement persisted through to the end of the novel. It had moments of charm and it’s a nice, less-serious counterpoint to Voss, with which it shares several themes (unspoken love, compulsion, the hubris of pitting oneself against the immensity of the Australian wilderness and, by proxy, fate itself) as well as its setting (Victorian-era Sydney and the outback), but if I were to suggest a Carey novel for a reader interested in Australia, Oscar and Lucinda would be fourth on my list, after True History of the Kelly Gang, Theft (A Love Story), and My Life as a Fake, all three of which achieve and sustain a virtuosic level of simultaneous weirdness and readability that Oscar and Lucinda hardly touches.