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Wanting: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 12, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel opens in 1839, as a preacher, overseeing a small group of wretched aborigines exiled from Van Dieman's Land (now Tasmania) to Flinders Island, is mystified by the increasingly "monstrous deaths" of the people under his "protection." He has been careful to demand that the aborigines adopt western dress, eat a western diet, and follow a western way of life. When their leader, King Romeo, dies an agonizing death, the Protector saws off his head for further study by British scientists. Ten pages (and fifteen years) later, Lady Jane Franklin, wife of Sir John Franklin, the former Governor of Van Dieman's Land, is in London, trying to raise money for new expeditions to the Arctic to discover the fate of her explorer husband, his ships, and their crews, lost for nine years. She has displayed the skull of King Romeo to phrenologists, who have concluded that the King was a savage, enslaved by his passions.
Ironies abound.Read more ›
Entranced by Mathinna's dancing, her slow way of moving, so distinct and so poignant, Lady Jane transports her back to Hobart as part of a new kind of experiment. Perhaps they can somehow breed some of this "savagery out" of the wayward girl. Cementing Mathinna's introduction into Hobartian society, the Governor and his wife instill in her all that is virtuous in English civilization, along with a favorite red dress, uncomfortable court shoes, and the appointment of a tutor Francis Lazaretto. Unfortunately the marriage between Sir John and Lady Jane is on shaky ground with Lady Jane feeling faint and lost. Watching Mathinna she feels she understands the child, imagining her grief, her needs, and her dreams. Even as the Franklins fall ever-more in love with the girl, Mathinna can't shake the ways of her native world.Read more ›
The odd-numbered chapters begin in 1838, with the visit of the Vice-Regent, Sir John Franklin, to an island colony where the few survivors of the wholesale slaughter of aborigines in the earlier part of the century have been sequestered, many dying from unexplained diseases. His wife is charmed by the dancing of Mathinna, the seven-year-old daughter of the aborigine king, and decides to have her brought up as a European lady, thus cloaking her sorrow at not being able to bear children herself in the guise of a scientific and educational experiment. Mathinna's life over the next ten years traces an extraordinary parabola; she is a delightful creation, and the story of how she is alternatively feted and abused makes devastating reading.
The connection with the life of Charles Dickens is admittedly slim. By 1851, Sir John Franklin, the former Tasmanian Vice-Regent, has disappeared on an arctic expedition and is presumed dead. His widow enlists Dickens' help in clearing his name from charges of cannibalism. As a result, Dickens becomes interested in polar exploration and, with the help of Wilkie Collins, stages a play with an arctic setting, acting the leading role himself to enormous acclaim.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful story of the fantasy of the noble savage, bringing us back to earth
about human nature, our aspirations to moral superiority and inevitable
plunge into... Read more
I am amazed at the amount of detail that Richard Flanagan has included in this book . The research that has gone into bringing to life such disparate characters is admirable. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Christopher Barnes
Wanting is the fifth novel by award-winning Australian author, Richard Flanagan. In 1841, Mathinna, an orphaned young Aboriginal girl, one of the remaining Van Diemen’s Land... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Cloggie Downunder
I bought the "immersion" set for the this book -- ebook and audiobook. The prose was well-written and powerful, and the reader did it justice, except that his Aussie or... Read morePublished 8 months ago by A. Thompson
Typically fabulous and entertaining, Flanagan is a genius.Published 9 months ago by Tamsyn Hinksman
I'm a big fan of Flanagan's writing but I didn't finish this one wanting more.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
An engaging piece of historical fiction. Be sure the read the essay after the book ends. It stays with you.Published 11 months ago by Mehdi Mahmud
In WANTING, Richard Flanagan tells two stories of frustrated desire, each featuring historical characters, with an attenuated connection between them. Read morePublished 12 months ago by R. M. Peterson