English Passengers

Matthew Kneale, Author Nan A. Talese $25 (464p) ISBN 978-0-385-49743-5
The brutal hand of British imperialism provides the foundation for this broad historical swashbuckler about the English colonization of Tasmania in the early and mid-19th century. U.K. author Kneale debuts stateside with this lengthy novel of hapless smugglers, desperate convicts, simpering bureaucrats, mad vicars and displaced aborigines. The English passengers are the Reverend Wilson, a vicar determined to prove that Tasmania was the site of the original Garden of Eden, and Doctor Potter, a ruthless scientist equally determined to prove Wilson wrong and gain fame in the victory. They're on their way to Tasmania aboard the good ship Sincerity, commanded by Captain Illiam Quillian Kewley, a high-seas smuggler and rascal of renown. This is an unpleasant voyage for everyone, especially Kewley, for he has been forced to charter his ship in order to escape punishment for dodging customs duties on his illicit cargoes. Storms, pirates and foul tempers, however, are just the prelude to the hardships that await everyone when they land in Tasmania. British self-righteousness in forcing civilization and Christianity on the aborigines causes wholesale slaughter and subjugation of the islanders, and the natives are more than just restless. Wilson and Potter's overland expedition is guided by Peevay, a wily aborigine not about to knuckle under to the white man. Of course, the expedition is a bloody disaster. Murder, madness, betrayal, mutiny and shipwreck spice up the action and provide intricate plot twists with surprising and satisfying resolutions, particularly for Captain Kewley. This rich tale is told by 20 different voices skipping back and forth across the years, but somehow Kneale manages to keep the reader from becoming confused. Kneale's careful research and colorful storytelling result in an impressive epic. BOMC featured selection. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4176-3666-2
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-385-25974-3
Hardcover - 464 pages - 978-0-385-25949-1
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-385-65866-9
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-20652-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-84197-258-9
Open Ebook - 309 pages - 978-0-307-48431-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-7446-9
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-385-49744-2
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-14-028521-5
Open Ebook - 978-0-385-67369-3
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