Monday, March 4, 2013

English Passengers | Matthew Kneale

I  have mixed feelings about this book. There is no doubt that is well written and that there  was a lot of research prior to writing the story, but...
The basic outline is that of a group of English passengers who charter a ship to sail from England to Tasmania in the 1800's determined to prove that the Garden of Eden was actually in Tasmania not the Middle East. The captain of the ship is involved in smuggling goods in his tailor made ship with secret compartments. And the third group in the story are the Aboriginal people who are invaded and subjugated by the colonials throughout Australia.
The story is told chapter by chapter by characters in the various groups and others (like the Governor's wife) who has a few chapters when the Governor is involved in the narrative.  The pace and voice of each chapter reflects the narrator and this got a bit tedious after 200-300 pages. It was like going over speed bumps when you just wanted to know what was going to happen next.
Although I think it's a good novel to have read, I don't think it will appeal to a lot of readers who would find it hard to keep going, especially through the mid section which is very slow. Could have been a shorter novel, and still told a very intriguing story.

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