Wrack Kindle Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- File Size : 1160 KB
- Print Length : 341 pages
- Publisher : Random House Australia (September 1, 2015)
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Publication Date : September 1, 2015
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B013FOCF5A
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,008,306 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1998.
A novel set in Australia, about two love stories that take place fifty years apart, brought together by the common theme of the search for the Portuguese ship, the first European vessel to discover Australia.
In the late 1930s, just before World War II erupted, Kurt and Veronica became involved. Veronica Marshall was upper class, and Kurt Seligman a poor student. Kurt worries about the condition of his poor clothes, his inability to pay the lunch tab, etc., but Veronica ignores all of that. They become lovers. But then, Veronica marries Fraser McDonald. Not only has Kurt lost Veronica, his lover, but, of all things, she has become the wife of his thesis advisor! Heaven help us.
The second love story is between David and Claire and set in the 1990s. David is a widower and Claire, a medical doctor, has just moved back after a failed affair. In some sense, then, both individuals are on the "rebound". Fortunately, Claire, as a doctor, is available to keep the old man, Kurt, medicated and alive as David attempts to pry the secret from him of the Portuguese ship.
And the ship is the central unifying theme of this book. Sixty plus years ago, Fraser McDonald and Kurt Seligman were looking for the wreck of the Portuguese mahogany ship that was rumored to have sailed around the continent of Australia. In the 1990s, David is looking for the same vessel. Kurt is dying and Claire assists David by keeping the old man, Kurt, both alive and lucid.
The story jumps back and forth between Kurt/Veronica and David/Claire, with side explanations of the Portuguese exploration of Africa, India and the Orient. Did a Portuguese vessel actually make the journey from Goa, India, down to the then unknown continent of Australia? Was the Portuguese red mahogany wreck buried in the beach sands and did Kurt know the location? While developing both love stories, the author also finds it necessary to develop the history of map making, and to give a synopsis of Portuguese exploration contemporary with Columbus and other explorers of Spain. The brief history of Portuguese exploration by James Bradley in this novel is better than most text books, where Spanish exploration dominates the pages. (A recent example of this emphasis on Spanish exploration is: "The Discovery of Mankind: Atlantic Encounters in the Age of Columbus" by David Abulafia.)
So, in this novel you get two love stories, an introduction to maps, a synopsis of the history of Portuguese exploration, the Australians in Singapore as the Japanese advance down the peninsula, and it all begins with the discovery of a mummified body in the beach sands. Read the book to find out if the Portuguese wreck is found.
This book is a definite must for readers who enjoy mysteries with plausible historical context and for those who enjoy writers who are masterful practitioners of the English language. Karen Sadler, Science Education, University of Pittsburgh
I picked up "Wrack" because of the idea of mapmaking. I anticipated a riveting novel and the unraveling of a puzzle, along the lines of Sobel's Longitude [yes, I realize it is not a novel]. The plot was predictable, and the ultimate denouement was an anticlimax.
That said, I think Bradley is a gifted writer. Two quotes: "Although he ... believes in the coded and ordered knowledge of science, the structured discourse of academic debate, he feels the pull of other places, other times." And: "We know so little. And it's only when we come to try and understand why something might have happened that we realize how poor and cheap our tools of understanding are. Forensics, memories, the law; but in the end they're all just matches we're striking in the darkness." Bradley is able to do what few contemporary writers even attempt: he expresses, and expresses well, our unuttered fears and limitations. A writer with that talent deserves a second reading.
Because a potential shipwreck in a shifting sand dune (all clumsy metaphors aside) along with a mid 20th-century murder mystery makes for a great escape. Especially when that shipwreck may rewrite history. The tangle of unrequited love is just that and it does strain the reader to care. However, I enjoyed the overall plot and benefited from parts of the history - both Portuguese exploration and Australian commitments in WW2. And like I say, a solid beach read made even better if you sip a couple of gin and tonics along with it.
Top reviews from other countries
All that could be forgiven if anything actually happened in the book but very little does. The subject is engaging and interesting but this author wastes it.
I can burn though most novels very quickly, that this one took me more than a week is telling, I did not find it compelling or engaging and returning to it was more of a chore than a pleasure.