Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Book Review: Jack Maggs A Novel by Peter Carey

What a fantastic read!

I have to say that if I read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens it was in high school and a required reading so I probably did not pay any attention. Apparently this book is a retelling of that story in the perspective of the main character, Jack Maggs, who is based upon Abel Magwitch from the original tale. 

Jack Maggs is an Australian convict who returns to Victorian London to make things right, from his perspective. He is a bad, bad man. When we meet him we quickly learn about his rage and his murderous ways. He is back in London on a mission, to find a young boy that made an impact on him when he was on his way to the penal colony in Australia.

Jack ends up infiltrating a comfortable household while he makes his move, playing the part of a house servant as he waits to meet his ward face to face. Along the way, he comes in contact with a novelist who is less than moral, who is very interested in getting into Jack's subconscious to learn all his secrets and pain. Tobias Oates (a characterization of Charles Dickens?) continues to hypnotize Jack to peel back the layer of defenses in hopes to create a character for one of his books that he thinks will be a best seller and his ultimate means to be rich instead of just famous.

Through this story we learn more about Jack and the series of events that unfolded from his strange painful childhood and his career as a thief as well as the loves he lost that landed him in the unfortunate position to be shipped off to Australia. We end up learning that there is a lot more to this man in terms of sense of duty and loyalty. Victorian morality is not always as just or wonderful as it seems and Jack is really the hero.

Great read!

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