English Passengers - Matthew Kneale

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English Passengers - Matthew Kneale

This novel tells two parallel stories: one of three eccentric Englishmen who set sail for Tasmania to find the garden of Eden; the other of a young Ta...

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Review of "English Passengers - Matthew Kneale"

published 24/01/2001 | PJE_
Member since : 06/08/2000
Reviews : 93
Members who trust : 45
About me :
Hi, I am the Ciaoer formerly known as 'PJE' (Ciao added a flattened penis to the end of my username against my wishes.) These days I live on goodreads where I am user no. 949843 - feel free to say hello over there, or on Twitter (phillipjedwards).
Pro A rollicking good read, very funny and enlightening.
Cons Some unnecessary diversions and characters perhaps.
Would you read it again?
How does it compare to similar books?

"A rowlocking good adventure"

I don't normally read historical novels (just the word historical sends me to sleep) so I started this book not expecting to finish it, but a couple of chapters in I was hooked.

Set in the mid-1800s and narrated by umpteen different characters (and different they certainly are) the story is mainly carried by three groups:-

(1) A Manx sea-captain - Illiam Quillian Kewley - and his crew, a loveable rogue intent on a bit of smuggling, who gets sidetracked by circumstances (such as the need to shake off zealous English customs officials) and ends up fleeing to the other side of the world having been chartered by...
(2) Reverend Geoffrey Wilson an English vicar determined to prove Darwin wrong by discovering the Garden of Eden - which he has calculated can only be located in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) and this is the novel's destination. There we we see through the eyes of a young aboriginal boy
(3) Peevay - the appallingly cruel behaviour of the British colonialists.

The exploits of Captain Kewley are often hilarious and in the chapters where he wasn't involved I was impatient to get back to him and his crew.

This book is terrific entertainment, an adventure novel which also, by describing events from different peoples' perspectives, shows how subjective history is. I suspect it might be more of a 'boys book' though.

Apparently it took Matthew Kneale seven years to research and write this book and it shows - congratulations to him on winning the Whitbread Prize.

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Comments on this review

  • melee679 published 08/02/2004
    my aunt recommended this to me, it sounds like it has a vague similarity to 'gould's book of fish' so i might actually listen to her for once and give it a go... m Xx
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Product Information : English Passengers - Matthew Kneale

Manufacturer's product description

This novel tells two parallel stories: one of three eccentric Englishmen who set sail for Tasmania to find the garden of Eden; the other of a young Tasmanian aborigine and his tribe, struggling against the invading British, who prove as lethal in their good intentions as in their cruelty. See all Product Description

Product Details

Author: Matthew Kneale

Title: English Passengers

Genre: Historical Fiction

Type: Fiction

ISBN: 0140285210; 0141003596; 0241140684; 0241141079; 0385259492; 0385259743; 0385497431; 038549744X; 0385658664


Listed on Ciao since: 24/01/2001