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Oscar and Lucinda

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,100 Ratings  ·  607 Reviews
Peter Carey's Booker Prize winning novel imagines Australia's youth, before its dynamic passions became dangerous habits. It is also a startling and unusual love story. Oscar is a young English clergyman who has broken with his past and developed a disturbing talent for gambling. A country girl of singular ambition, Lucinda moves to Sydney, driven by dreams of self-relianc ...more
Paperback, 520 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Faber & Faber (first published 1988)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
Feb 08, 2013 mark monday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
technicolor and wide-screen in scale and spectacle, quirky and consistently surprising in characterization and incident. virtually a catalog of bizarre imagery, you-are-there historical detail, and way-off-center characters. so many beautiful sequences linger on in the mind, so many wonderful characters, such a surprising lightness of tone, such gorgeous prose... it all almost, but not quite, causes the reader to forget the bleakness at this novel's core. strange, compassionate and, finally, tra ...more
Mar 09, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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 qui
Kristina A
Jan 26, 2015 Kristina A rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like novels set in the 19th century and unhappy endings
For the past few years, I've thought about endings a lot. I've excused a lot of novels (esp contemporary ones) for bad or unsatisfying endings. Some novels end in a way that goes against all you've learned from the novel; others just... stop. Then there are the "conservative" endings of Victorian novels that many scholars complain "shut down" or tidy the "subversive" or threatening ideas raised in the novel. Lately I've found myself arguing against this complaint, because even if a novel ends co ...more
Jan 01, 2015 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I definitely expected to like this book a lot more than I did, based on another Carey novel I remember loving years ago (True History of the Kelly Gang). The difference, for me, comes down to tone and characterization. While I liked the title characters in Oscar and Lucinda well enough, I wasn't terribly attached to either of them by the end. And something about the tone of this novel I disliked: there's a certain balance (or in my opinion, imbalance) between serious drama/tragedy and comedy/wit ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 12, 2015 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Modern Fiction); 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Shelves: 1001-core, 501
How many ways you can tell a love story? How many types of lovers are there in the world?

It tells about the two odd gamblers, Oscar Hopskins, a preacher's son and Lucinda, a heiress who buys a glass factory. The first one is obsessive and the other one is a compulsive gambler. They fell in love on their way to the 19th century Australia. Lucinda challenges Oscar that he cannot move the glass factory to another town and Oscar accepts the challenge and the end is I don't know. What I mean is if i
Jul 03, 2011 Bennet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-stories
This is my second Carey, and though it doesn't top the voice or language of my first (Parrot and Olivier in America), I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend it and now consider myself a fan.

I like his odd premises and vivid detailing and devious humor and quirky characters; I occasionally become disoriented while following their digressive journeys, but so far the crisscrossing paths have always come clear and he's never lost me.

Central to this trek is a mid-nineteenth century and long voyage to Sy
Aravind P
Nov 01, 2012 Aravind P rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
“Writing long books is a laborious and impoverishing act of foolishness: expanding in five hundred pages an idea that could be perfectly explained in a few minutes" Jorge Luis Borges

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
― Dr. Seuss

What a pity. There hasn't been a book that has annoyed me as much as this one. I can't take this prose style anymore. It talks about 2 "outcasts", I couldn't find a plausible reason other than their own assumpti
Feb 29, 2012 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Oakes
no spoilers; just synopsis

a) don't see the movie unless you read the book...something gets really lost between the two

b)Excellent, simply excellent!!! I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates superlative writing and a quirky story. If every book were like this one, I would be in Heaven!!!! The prose is outstanding and these characters are simply so real I thought they'd float off the page.

Oscar and Lucinda is set both in England and in Australia in the 19th century. In England, Osca
Michael Walkden
Jul 06, 2012 Michael Walkden rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Will Eaves, China Mieville
The Rushlight List - A novel for each and every country

This was a slow read. Five-hundred pages shouldn't have been too daunting to a regular reader of epic fantasy, but I have to say that after the first few it was clear to me that Oscar and Lucinda was no page-turner. However, I was determined to persevere - not only is this the Rushlight selection for Australia, but I'd also had it recommended by tutors Will Eaves and China Miéville as being thematically relevant to a project I'm working on
May 21, 2008 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started this book I knew I was in for something different. Two gamblers fall in love and conspire to transport a glass church across the outback in colonial times? And it's good? Yes, it is good.

Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda was a great trip for me. I loved being immersed in the details of the 1850s and 1860s. I especially loved being immersed in the details of the mind from this period. This is not a simple love story. The characters feel deeply about many things, and have many differ
Stef Rozitis
So many conflicting feelings. The book is so exquisitely written and worked, the characters quite believable and Carey has a rare talent for writing believable and deeply explored female characters although male himself. The book is so tragic, unfolds into layers and layers of ever bleaker despair but with touches of humanity that make you long for joy.

Is it a true story? It could be true. The thin blue line between greatness and madness is walked for the whole 500 pages. The chapters are blesse
Jul 06, 2007 Francesca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: verynice
lucinda has a fond memory of glass and buys a glassworks factory with her inheritence.
oscar has fond memories of 'truth' and seeks a path divined by god.
they are both lonely, gamblers and meet on a boat.
Colleen Stone
It's such a while since I read this book but it's right up there among my all time favourites.

Oscar and Lucinda are such improbable characters ... Unfit for the world on so many levels but with robust conviction in their own world view. While they should both be cowering forlornly in some remote and dimly lit place, they embark on a mad mission with the sort of passion we all hope to experience at least once in our lives but probably never will.

The Prince Rupert's Drop that so impresses the yo
Feb 20, 2014 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I had heard of Parrot and Olivier in America, I wasn’t really familiar with Peter Carey before I ran across Warwick’s review of Illywhacker which you can find here. That review made me want to read some Carey, but I wanted to start with his most popular work which, according to GR ratings, is Oscar and Lucinda. It started out a bit slow, but gained momentum as I read on, so I’m glad I stayed with it. The writing is wonderful and the beautifully drawn, vivid and nuanced characters give ...more
Jan 13, 2015 Sonya rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
3. What a wonderful novel. I'd forgotten all the story's intricate plot and about how Carey creates an Australian universe of characters with secret agendas and shames. It has gambling, religion, repression, and love. If you're looking for a good "book from every continent" book, this might be the one for you.

2. I want to reread more books this year. Less chasing of new things while still remaining current, but slowing down and experiencing books I said I loved to see if I still do.

1. I read thi
Apr 08, 2015 Deea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: man-booker-prize
What a bore of a book. I will give it 3 stars only because the first 100 pages seemed witty and humorous. I thought the whole book would be like this, but after those 100 pages from the beginning...I could not relate to it anymore. I missed on things and couldn't really appreciate its humor anymore. The lines had no more effect on me anymore.
Loving it so far. "Oscar and Lucinda are two of the most perfectly realised characters in modern fiction. An immensely skilful and absorbing juxtaposition of a gently comic, obliquely ironic, and deeply compassionate vision of human existence."
I began watching the movie they made of this book, but didn't complete it. From what I remembered, it seemed to be a story about two gamblers, brought together by a fantastical wager - to transport a glass church across unmapped Australian bush. Or so I thought. And it is, except it is also mostly not.

The glass church is the unraveling of this meticulously crafted book. Up until then I enjoyed it. The characterization of Oscar and Lucinda is exceptional. I did not like either of them, not one l
Julie Tridle
Feb 18, 2013 Julie Tridle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've considered giving this book a fifth star. The writing was pretty much perfect, the story unique and the characters interesting and memorable. I also know I've given five stars to books that weren't nearly as well-written. I suspect I'm being stingy with that final star because the book didn't keep me riveted. It's not really a book you read to find out what will happen next but to take in and savor what you are reading now, and I'm not sure it's fair to punish a book for that. Still, I will ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, I had a hard time getting into this book. I'd read a bit, then put it down, then read a bit more, then put it down, and so on. I don't know why: I like Peter Carey.

It may have been that I found the book too "religious," it could be that I couldn't find sympathy for any character (except possibly Percy Smith, the animal handler), it could be that I just couldn't do anything but laugh at the picture Oscar made in my mind - something like a sincere Uriah Heep with his cringing and
May 25, 2008 Crispycms rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful. Carey uses language here like a musical instrument. So different from Theft or My Life as a Fake, it flows and meanders, gently blending together subplots and characters until the inevitable conclusion.
OSCAR AND LUCINDA. (1988). Peter Carey. ***.
This was Carey’s Booker Prize winning novel set – mostly – in Australia, although it takes a while to get there. Although he has been a long-time resident of the U.S., the books he writes based on his experiences in Australia, his native land, seem to be more alive than those using other countries as the backdrop. I suspect it is because of the almost infinite number of details that he seems to be able to drop into the story line that maintain the rea
I didn't read any reviews until I was more than halfway through the book, so I knew by then that the event most of them here mention - the wager on the glass church - is not at the centre of the story. If I had been reading Oscar & Lucinda waiting for that I most certainly would have been disappointed. I WAS disappointed when I saw that many (most) reviewers on Goodreads gave great reviews to the book... because I'm deeply ambivalent about Oscar & Lucinda, which I WANTED to like much mor ...more
Apr 04, 2011 Melee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oscar and Lucinda was constructed like a house of cards: slowly and carefully. Just when the house of cards had reached near perfection, Peter Carey gave what I perceived to be a malicious smile, and started to deconstruct his creation. I could only sit dumbly as he started pulling cards off the top. Then after a while of that, he unemotionally took a deep breath and... blew the whole thing over; leaving me in the midst of the ruins, unable to close my gaping mouth.
I knew it ended unhappily bef
Courtney H.
Feb 01, 2012 Courtney H. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookers
Oscar and Lucinda is a feat. It is a huge accomplishment, and you are aware of that as you read it (I think I mentioned Midnight's Children is a bit like that; it is even more prominent in Oscar and Lucinda). The book is meticulous. Carey paints a careful, rich landscape of backwater England and Australia in the mid 1800s -- not only the physical attributes, but a landscape of culture and society. Carey must have been entrenched in his research, because he entrenched me, as a reader, in his back ...more
Jan 31, 2011 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andy by: The Booker Prize
Shelves: prize-winners, 2011
The second of Peter Carey's books which I've read, both Booker prize winners. Recounting the historical tale of the two title characters we journey from England to Australia in the mid 19th century.

It's a harsh and vibrant world, populated by an extraordinary cast of well composed characters. Oscar's battles with hardline religion, gambling addiction and constant lack of self confidence and insight are shadowed and reflected in the passions and restrictions Lucinda imposes on herself. Carey pai
Aug 01, 2010 Nom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Carey is a brilliant writer. That statement, though simplistic, must be made. I adored the narrative strategy of this book--of a young person recounting ancestors and history. But the best thing about it, for me, is that each character who enters the space if this narrative is respected as a character, and we see over and over again that each person has her own individual life,and a whole world of ideas in her mind, even if she is just a minor character to the two titular characters. And b ...more
Susan Wilson
Jun 03, 2013 Susan Wilson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm done with Peter Carey. I read True History of The Kelly Gang a few years ago and thought it was disappointing (and then forgot I had read it and started again, only realising it felt very familiar after I had waded through 100 or so pages), why or why, did I think I would enjoy Oscar and Lucinda? It was dull and the characters were not believable or remotely likeable. I'm dumbfounded it won the Booker Prize and bemused it has such strong reviews on this site. The only thing that kept m ...more
Destinee Sutton
Jul 27, 2007 Destinee Sutton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tragic lovers
When I read this book I was more depressed than I've ever been. I was on the verge of quitting the Peace Corps and loathing myself for it. Then I read Oscar and Lucinda and ended up completing my service and feeling great! Just kidding.

Even though it didn't improve my circumstances or self-esteem, this book was like a gift. It's a beautifully told, terribly sad story. I'm afraid to read it again because I don't think I'll ever feel as strongly about it as I did in Namibia.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Peter Carey was born in Australia in 1943.

He was educated at the local state school until the age of eleven and then became a boarder at Geelong Grammar School. He was a student there between 1954 and 1960 — after Rupert Murdoch had graduated and before Prince Charles arriv
More about Peter Carey...

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“To know you will be lonely is not the same as being lonely.” 26 likes
“You could not tell a story like this. A story like this you could only feel.” 24 likes
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