It is 1841. In the remote penal colony of Van Diemens Land, a barefoot aboriginal girl sits for a portrait in a red silk dress. She is Mathinna, the adopted daughter of the islands governor, Sir John Franklin, and his wife, Lady Jane, and the subject of a grand experiment in civilizationone that will determine whether science, Christianity, and reason can be imposed on savagery, impulse, and desire. Years later, somewhere in the Arctic, Sir John Franklin has disappeared with his crew and two ships on an expedition to find the fabled Northwest Passage. England is horrified by reports of cannibalism filtering back from search parties, no one more so than the most celebrated novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, for whom Franklins story becomes a means to plumb the frozen depths of his own life.
"[T]hough Flanagan has a tendency to hammer home his ideas, his prose is strong and precise, and the depiction of desire's effects is sublime." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. As always, Flanagan's prose is beautifully crafted, at once elegant and astonishing. This is Flanagan's most accessible work to date, and it should draw new fans." - Library Journal
"Starred Review." - Kirkus Reviews
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Descended from Irish convicts transported to Van Diemens Land (later renamed
Tasmania) during the Great Famine, Richard Flanagan was born in his native
island in 1961, the fifth of six children. He spent his childhood in the mining
town of Rosebery and left school at sixteen to work as a bush laborer. He later
attended the University of Tasmania, graduating with first class honours in
1982. The following year he was awarded a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford
University. He later worked as a laborer and river guide.
He wrote four history books before turning to fiction. His first novel, the much celebrated Death of a River Guide (1994), tells the tale of Aljaz Cosini, a guide on the Franklin River who lies drowning as he relives his life and the lives of his ...
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