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Read Oscar And Lucinda (1998)

Oscar and Lucinda (1998)

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3.71 of 5 Votes: 4
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0702229784 (ISBN13: 9780702229787)
university of queensland press

Oscar And Lucinda (1998) - Plot & Excerpts

The Rushlight List - A novel for each and every country This was a slow read. Five-hundred pages shouldn't have been too daunting to a regular reader of epic fantasy, but I have to say that after the first few it was clear to me that Oscar and Lucinda was no page-turner. However, I was determined to persevere - not only is this the Rushlight selection for Australia, but I'd also had it recommended by tutors Will Eaves and China Miéville as being thematically relevant to a project I'm working on called The Glass Architect.Is Oscar and Lucinda a book about Australia? Not really. Is it set in Australia? Well, mostly. The story follows two children - duh, Oscar and Lucinda - through to their meeting in young adulthood. Both have experienced death early in life. Both have developed gambling habits - "one obsessive, the other compulsive." They are damaged, flawed, often dislikeable individuals, drawn together by this one shared passion - or weakness.Before reading, I had understood Carey's Booker Prize winner to be about a man and a woman transporting a glass church across Australia for a bet. What I didn't realise was that, although this is indeed the part that people remember most - there's a film, which I haven't seen, but I'm guessing it focusses most heavily on this aspect of the story - this plotline doesn't come to the surface until the last hundred pages of the book. There's plenty of foreshadowing and pre-construction, but this doesn't change the fact that most of the book reads as slightly directionless. Even when the two titular protagonists' lives begin to intertwine, we are given little indication of what this portends. Had I approached the book with no prior knowledge, I would have been bemused and probably rather bored by the lengthy descriptive passages with no obvious purpose.The biggest and most obvious defect of the book was, for me, the author's excessively minute descriptions of his more peripheral characters. I often felt that he was engaging in unnecessary padding, and sometimes even using these passages to avoid the business of progressing the story. But this is precisely why I'm glad I never leave a book unfinished. Much - though not all - of what I had considered irrelevant does eventually present a purpose, and we see by the end how many of those characters besides Oscar and Lucinda - Dennis Hassett, Mr d'Abbs, the unforgettable Mr Jeffris - are in fact integral to the story.Peter Carey's prose is consistently sublime, and the sheer amount of crafting that has gone into this book is evident. It seems too easy to go for the glass church metaphor, but I'm going there anyway: Oscar and Lucinda is a colossal, fragile work, built on a hundred contingencies, constantly threatening to collapse under the weight of its own improbability. The shocking gravity of its conclusion, which I don't want to spoil here - because, in case you were wondering, you should definitely read this book - is dependent upon the multitude of set pieces that have been painstakingly put in place over the sedate, sometimes sluggish course of 400 pages.In this sense, Oscar and Lucinda is a wager. The stakes: your time and engagement. Whether the return is ultimately worth it depends upon the reader. You may find yourself questioning whether the story is really going anywhere. You might lose your faith in it entirely. My advice would be to stick with it to the end; leave before the game's over and you'll only wonder what you missed.The Rushlight List - A novel for each and every country

This is my second Carey, and though it doesn't top the voice or language of my first (Parrot and Olivier in America), I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend it and now consider myself a fan.I like his odd premises and vivid detailing and devious humor and quirky characters; I occasionally become disoriented while following their digressive journeys, but so far the crisscrossing paths have always come clear and he's never lost me. Central to this trek is a mid-nineteenth century and long voyage to Sydney, Australia, during which two independent misfits named Oscar Hopkins and Lucinda Leplastrier meet. She, having heard he is a priest, asks to make a confession. The sin is gambling. The priest -- a thoughtful Anglican with beautiful hands and "a heart-shaped face like an angel by Dante Gabriel Rossetti" -- laughs. Turns out he gambles too. Oscar started gambling as a boy rolling the childhood equivalent of dice to determine the answer to life's most important question: How best to serve God? The answer: Become an Anglican priest. He fretfully but sincerely delights in this, despite the ensuing estrangement from his father, who considers Anglicans as damned as pagans and worse than Catholics.In response to Lucinda's confession, Oscar says: "Our whole faith is a wager, Miss Leplastrier . . . We bet that there is a God. We bet our life on it . . . We must stake everything on the unprovable fact of his existence."Lucinda instantly "felt she knew him. She imagined not only his passion for salvation but his fear of damnation . . . It was a mirror she looked at, a mirror and window both."She -- a lovely and idealistic orphan partial to bloomers -- has recently bet her inheritance upon a failing glass factory because she loves art glass and believes "that industrialization will prove to result in the liberation of women."Should that sound romantic, it is, but there's nothing sentimental about Carey. Given the compounding ironies and harsh realities, sentimentality doesn't stand a chance. In the end the story of Oscar and Lucinda is a tragedy. But it is so compassionately told, beautifully evoked, and honestly rendered that I wouldn't change a thing.

What do You think about Oscar And Lucinda (1998)?

3. What a wonderful novel. I'd forgotten all the story's intricate plot and about how Carey creates an Australian universe of characters with secret agendas and shames. It has gambling, religion, repression, and love. If you're looking for a good "book from every continent" book, this might be the one for you.2. I want to reread more books this year. Less chasing of new things while still remaining current, but slowing down and experiencing books I said I loved to see if I still do.1. I read this around the time it came out. I found a family copy of the book to re-read, but the cheap paper makes my sinuses hurt too much, so I'm buying a U.K. edition and will read it again. I remember loving it so much, so I want to experience the whole thing again.

I didn't read any reviews until I was more than halfway through the book, so I knew by then that the event most of them here mention - the wager on the glass church - is not at the centre of the story. If I had been reading Oscar & Lucinda waiting for that I most certainly would have been disappointed. I WAS disappointed when I saw that many (most) reviewers on Goodreads gave great reviews to the book... because I'm deeply ambivalent about Oscar & Lucinda, which I WANTED to like much more than I did.I have really mixed feelings towards Peter Carey's. When I first started it, I professed loudly and clearly to everyone that would listen that I didn't enjoy the story, or connect with any of the characters or even like the way it was written. Yet, I didn't have any trouble finishing it - in fact, I found it incredibly easy, sometimes exquistely beautiful, to read.The main problem was that I found that I didn't connect with the characters until three quarters into the book, by which point I was a bit exhausted from dragging myself through their lives without any real interest. This was especially the case at the beginning of the novel. Another aspect that held me back was the story: The beginning is very slow, and felt like it focused on setting the child-Oscar and child-Lucinda very firmly in place and time and then throwing up events that would shape them into the adults they became. Throughout the story the chapters jump here and there to tangents in the story or minor characters. Every single character (and to me, they felt too much like characters in a book rather than real people), even some of the most marginal ones, has his or her own particular eccentricity or individual quirk that requires a backstory to explain how events in their history shaped them (which only served to distance me further from them). All these events from the beginning and the characters essentially shape the ending, and its very clever of Carey to tie everything in, but at the beginning I didn't care and by the end it all seemed too cleverly constructed to shape Oscar and Lucinda's characters in a certain way and lead them to that point.In the end, I know what I didn't like about the novel, but I can't figure out what it is that I did like. I found it incredibly easy to read and beautifully, occasionally poetically worded - but at times that came with a sense of frustration too. At about the three quarter mark I found that I really did like and care about the characters - although that feeling came and went as the story progressed. So I'm still not sure... If nothing else, I found it nice to read something set in Australia (even if it was set in an Australia over 100 years in the past), which I rarely do these days.

no spoilers; just synopsisa) don't see the movie unless you read the book...something gets really lost between the twob)Excellent, simply excellent!!! I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates superlative writing and a quirky story. If every book were like this one, I would be in Heaven!!!! The prose is outstanding and these characters are simply so real I thought they'd float off the page.Oscar and Lucinda is set both in England and in Australia in the 19th century. In England, Oscar Hopkins is the son of a non-Anglican, religious fundamentalist who is also a naturalist, and up until he is about 15 Oscar grows up with the reassurance that he is among the saved. Oscar's mother died; he lives with his father in a little village called Hennacombe in Devon, in an austere house with no ornamentation; even the food is plain. One Christmas one of the cooks feels sorry for the boy and makes him a Christmas pudding, complete with raisins & a cherry; the ostentatiousness of the pudding leads Theophilus (Oscar's father) to lose it and he hits Oscar, who is then forced to cough up the pudding. Later, they are out wading in the ocean, and Oscar asks that God smite his father out of anger; just then, Theophilus has an accident that cuts him on the leg. Oscar realizes that he has to leave -- and the signs point to the Anglican Church. We next find him at Oxford, at Oriel College, where he discovers gambling. One thing leads to another and Oscar sets out to become a missionary in New South Wales but he has to go by ship...a problem since Oscar has this immense water phobia. It is on this voyage that Oscar meets Lucinda Leplastrier, returning to Australia, whose parents had died & whose mother, before dying, had their land subdivided and sold and Lucinda was now an heiress living off the profits. She is also the owner of a glassworks in Australia. Lucinda is obstinate, headstrong & like Oscar, she is a gambler. The lives of these two people come together on the ship, then meet again after Oscar discovers that there is no Missionary Work to be done in New South Wales, and that he is to be assigned to a posh vicarage instead. He meets Lucinda in a Chinese gambling house ... and things take off from there. I won't say another word... you really should read it for yourself.The writing is excellent; the story is excellent and there are so many themes that are explored without the author ever losing track. My only complaint: the end came so fast (it was a great ending but rushed) that after having savored the story for so long I felt cheated. However, the rest of the book was absolutely stunning and so rich so I can overlook this.Please try this book...I can totally see how it won a Booker.
—Nancy Oakes

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