Share via Email This strange, bold, gripping, and wonderful novel is the story of a power-struggle, a double love-story, a quest-story, and a story of trickery and disguise. In Jack Maggs, Peter Carey has written a twentieth-century, post-colonial Dickens novel, in an imaginative and audacious act of appropriation. Eccentric minor characters rapidly appear and disappear. But this is Victorian England with a difference. But when he returns to find him, he meets instead the man who will become his author. What Dickens will make of Magwitch is set against the alternative story of Maggs.

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With a passion he barely understood himself, he named it, mapped it, widened its great streets, narrowed its dingy lanes, framed its scenes with the melancholy windows of his childhood. In this way, he invented a respectable life for himself: a wife, a babe, a Time and place were chosen specially to make this magnificent stylization to Charles Dickens particularly credible. In this way, he invented a respectable life for himself: a wife, a babe, a household. He had gained a name for comic tales.

He had got himself, along the way, a little belly, a friend who was a titled lady, a second friend who was a celebrated actor, a third friend who was a Knight of the Realm, a fourth friend who was an author and tutor to the young Princess Victoria. He did not dare look down, so far had he come. Until this morning, when his fun and games had killed a man.

Then the doctor had cast him out, and this criminal, this outcast, had felt himself free to pick him up and shake him as though he were nothing but a rabbit. And in the end good wins as it always should… Jack Maggs has known very little kindness in his life and this does not change when he finally meets up with Henry. He returns to A post-colonial reworking of the story of Great Expectations, Jack Maggs is the tale of a transported convict who returns secretly to England to see Henry Phipps, the adopted son whose education he has financed.

He returns to Australia after the meeting having witnessed the destruction of the dream he had nourished for so many years. Running parallel to the narrative of Jack Maggs is the story of the novelist, Tobias Oates, clearly based on Charles Dickens, who encounters Maggs by chance in the household of a friend. I never find Peter Carey an easy read. Nonetheless, this is a richly textured book, full of resonance.

The language is muscular, the voice compelling and the whole thing seems to be attended by a dark energy that brings the story and the characters to life with startling clarity


Great extrapolations

New York: Alfred A. Though its hero claims that he got his name because his foster mother thought he chattered like a magpie, there is more than chatter going on here. In , Jack Maggs, a convict transported to Australia, illegally returns to London, facing death if he is caught. The quest for Phipps comes to involve hypnotism, skirmishes with the police, even murder.


Jack Maggs



Jack Maggs - Peter Carey


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