Undoubtedly a great writer, easily glimpsed in some wonderful narrative, but it all seemed to fall away at the end seemingly a little rushed and lost. As a set text I dare say some deep rereads are about to happen and maybe its greater depth will emerge. How much is fiction and fantasy we will never know but the terror of white arrogance in the genocide of Tasmania’s aboriginals is well captured and sadly mankind continues this destruction of those who we don’t agree with or understand. A valuable contribution to our story and one all Aussies should hope never returns.
Internationally acclaimed and profoundly moving, Richard Flanagan’s Wanting is a stunning tale of colonialism, ambition, and the lusts and longings that make us human. Now in paperback, it links two icons of Western civilization through a legendarily disastrous arctic exploration, and one of the most infamous episodes in human history: the colonization of Tasmania.
In 1841, Sir John Franklin and his wife, Lady Jane, move to the remote penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania. There Lady Jane falls in love with a lively aboriginal girl, Mathinna, whom she adopts and makes the subject of a grand experiment in civilization—one that will determine whether science, Christianity, and reason can be imposed in the place of savagery, impulse, and desire.
A quarter of a century passes. Sir John Franklin disappears in the Arctic 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. As Franklin’s story becomes a means to plumb the frozen depths of his own life, Dickens finds a young actress thawing his heart.