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Young Oscar, denied the heavenly fruit of a Christmas pudding by his cruelly stern father, forever renounces his father's religion in favor of the Anglican Church. "Dear God," Oscar prays, "if it be thy will that thy people eat pudding, smite him!" Lucinda's childhood trauma involves a beautiful doll bought by her struggling mother with savings from the jam jar; in a misguided attempt to tame the doll's unruly curls, young Lucinda mutilates her treasure beyond repair. Neither of these coming-of-age stories quite explains how the grownup Oscar and Lucinda each develops a guilty passion for gambling. Oscar plays the horses while at school, and Lucinda, now an orphaned heiress, finds comfort in a game of cards with an odd collection of acquaintances.
When the two finally meet onboard a ship bound for New South Wales, they are bound by their affinity for risk, their loneliness, and their awkwardly blossoming (but unexpressed) mutual affection. Their final high-stakes folly - transporting a crystal palace of a church across (literally) godforsaken terrain - strains plausibility, and events turn ghastly as Oscar plays out his bid for Lucinda's heart. Yet even the unconvincing plot turns are made up for by Carey's rich prose and the tale's unpredictable outcome. Although love proves to be the ultimate gamble for Oscar and Lucinda, the story never strays too far from the terrible possibility that even the most thunderstruck lovers can remain isolated in parallel lives.
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By Darwin8u on 10-25-15
A book to wade in, submerge into.
“She thought: When we are two, they do not notice us. They think us a match. What wisdom does a mob have? It is a hydra, an organism, stupid or dangerous in much of its behavior, but could it have, in spite of this, a proper judgement about which of its component parts fit best together?”
― Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda
A book to love. A book to wade in, submerge into. A novel that tempts one to grab it around the middle and squeeze, even as it dances away like a shadow. It flickers like the quiet, mirrored Doppler effect of water flowing around a pair of swans. It plays coy. It trips backwards. At times, it really IS too much. But I still love/d it. The prose? Beautiful. The story? Magnificent. Worlds of glass, chance, love, passion, obsession, stars-crossed, God, compulsion, sin, materialism and generosity of spirit. Just like a coin spun/tossed/launched at midday into the sky will twist head over tails -- at once both reflecting and in turn blocking the sun-- this book twists between obsessive Oscar and compulsive Lucinda and spun wildly around a whole slew of characters and just spun there, suspended forever, threatening never to come down. And then it did. And it was glorious.
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