Step inside the mind of a thief in old world London. Know him through his intrigues, desires and regrets. A very good read.
Peter Carey turns into Charles Dickens in this very entertaining book. A good introduction to the author, whose other works have stylistic and plot artifices that might put off readers who were not comfortable with his writing. This books rolls along, misunderstanding piling upon misunderstanding, to a twisted and climatic ending
I've had this book on my shelves for close to ten years. I know I originally acquired this because it is on the list of "1001 books you must read before you die." To me, the books on this list are kind of hit and miss but this one was well worth reading.
It is basically a reworking of Dickens' Great Expectations from the point of view of the convict, Jack Maggs (Magwitch). Maggs has returned illegally from his exile in Australia to seek out the young man who did him a favor just before Maggs was transported to Australia. Maggs has become the boy's benefactor but the boy, Henry Phipps (Pip), has not reciprocated Maggs' generosity. Maggs ends up working as a footman in a household where he meets a struggling writer Tobias Oates (Dickens). Oates is proficient at somnambulism and is able to find out about Maggs' background while he is mesmerized and intends to use Maggs story as the basis for a novel. The plot has many twists and turns with many well-drawn characters. The story deals with many things that Dickens could not have portrayed in his novels including sexual passion, homosexuality, prostitution, and abortion. There are powerful scenes of how Maggs was forced into thievery at a young age including being forced down a chimney to open the door to the thieves. There are lots of twists and depictions of the poor and downtrodden, violence, secrets, joy and loss. Overall, I would definitely recommend this reworking of a Dickens classic. It was easy to read and very enjoyable.