Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The English Passengers

Cover Image from Amazon
The first book of 2015; English Passengers by Matthew Kneale. 

I actually started this way before Christmas, but didn't have much chance to read it until the new year. It follows the story of five characters and their adventures that become intertwined in a hilarious and unexpected way.

Aboard the Sincerity, Captain Keweley and his crew try to smuggle brandy and tobacco into England, but due to unforeseen circumstances, are forced to take on passengers and venture half way round the world in search of the Garden of Eden. Their three English passengers are a reverend, a doctor and a botanist, who have all either volunteered, or been forced to join the quest that takes them to Tasmania. While we follow these four characters in their journey across the oceans, there is also the story of Peevay, a half-cast Tasmanian aboriginal, and his tribe who have been forced out of their homes and must either fly or fight the white men that are taking over their land. All come to loggerheads when the Sincerity reaches Tasmanian shores, and the final outcome is wholly unanticipated.

I loved this book, although it was a little hard to follow at times. It's witty, intelligent and thought provoking at the same time; I found myself developing strong opinions of the characters based on their actions and reactions to certain events. It's sometimes hard to believe that these kinds of things did actually happen; there are characters and anecdotes within the novel that are based on real people, and real events.

Despite needing a good deal of concentration when reading, I'd definitely recommend it to all as it's well worth the effort.

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