Wanting: Book summary and reviews of Wanting by Richard Flanagan

Wanting

A Novel

By Richard Flanagan

Wanting
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  • Published in USA  May 2009,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

It is 1841. In the remote penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land, a barefoot aboriginal girl sits for a portrait in a red silk dress. She is Mathinna, the adopted daughter of the island’s governor, Sir John Franklin, and his wife, Lady Jane, and the subject of a grand experiment in civilization—one 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 Franklin’s story becomes a means to plumb the frozen depths of his own life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[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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Author Information

Richard Flanagan Author Biography

Photo: © Pan Macmillan Australia

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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