Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Theft: A Love Story” as Want to Read:
Theft: A Love Story
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Theft: A Love Story

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  2,440 ratings  ·  299 reviews
Once again displaying Peter Carey's flair for language, 'Theft' is a love poem of a very different kind. Ranging from the rural wilds of Australia to Manhattan via Tokyo, it explores themes of art, fraud, responsibility and redemption.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published 2006 by Faber and Faber
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Theft, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I'm a Peter Carey junkie, slowly coming down again from the wild rush that his books give me. There's hardly a writer whose books are just so much damned FUN. This is another example of his versatility and originality, especially obvious in the two narrative voices of the two brothers, so different at the beginning of the book, but that seem to approach each other more and more. It becomes clearer and clearer that Butcher Bones is the less reliable of the two, his 'damaged' brother Hugh, the 'id ...more
Carey’s humor is transcendent in this book. It’s the story of Michael, an alcoholic nearing middle age painter who leaves the detritus of his failed marriage and some legal tussles in Australia and immigrates to New York city with his new (and ever scheming) love and his mentally challenged brother Hugh (though you find yourself continually wondering who has the largest handicap, Michael or Hugh). Most of the happenings are tragic but you find yourself laughing anyway especially reading Hugh’s t ...more
Apr 10, 2008 Rachel rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: bookclub
I really didn't care for this book. It was a painful read. The story is told by two narrators: an artist, who is a bit crazy and a drunk, and his brother, who is mentally challenged (though you never really learn what his diagnosis is). It is told in a stream of consciousness and the chapters can be very hard to follow. It tells the story of the theft of a famous piece of art in Australia and how it intertwines with this artist's life. It improves as the story unfolds, but I just found myself wa ...more
The more I read of Peter Carey, the better I like him. I found "Oscar and Lucinda" tough sledding. "My life as a Fake" explored some interesting ideas, but wasn't altogether successful, in my opinion. In "Theft", Carey revisits some of the themes which clearly continue to interest him - Australian art and literature, and how they are perceived both within and outside Australia. "My Life as a Fake" dealt with literature and made obvious reference to the infamous "Ern Malley" literary hoax of the ...more
Robert W
I read Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake and Wrong About Japan, and didn’t like either of them. I just couldn’t get hooked into the effusively praised My Life as a Fake, and Wrong About Japan, though it had a few clever insights, seemed too slight to be a book.

So I wasn’t planning to read any more Carey, but a review of Theft made me waver. I like books about fictional artists, and the subject of art crime and fraud has long interested me. The fine art trade is very lightly regulated, but places a
Fantastic book! This is one worth sticking through, for the ending is really killer. I had my doubts in the beginning, but the novel really delivered. I loved the alternating first person POVs. (My novel does the same thing, and I've been struggling with it. Now I feel like I can move forward.) I grew to love both characters, Hugh's ignorance as much Butcher's anger. Loved the thriller, mystery aspect, tempered always by beautiful observations and lyrical turns of phrase. Carey's got a great han ...more
Soumen Daschoudhury
May 29, 2015 Soumen Daschoudhury rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Art lovers maybe
I somehow thought, when I had the book in my hands, considering the praises on its cover, that it would be a fun ride, a journey of guffaws and cunning smirks but alas, deceived and dejected! In a single sentence, I didn’t find anything great about the story.

So, Michael ‘Butcher’ Boone is an artist, a cranky profane one, is recently divorced losing a substantial count of his paintings and his child to the “Alimony whore” as he puts it. And Hugh ‘Slow’ Bones is his brother, slow in the mind and
James Murphy
Remember J. P. Donleavy? The Ginger Man? I remembered Donleavy about p200 of Theft. Peter Carey's prose isn't quite so verbally manic. But this novel is joyously written and full of energy. Those qualities reminded me of Donleavy. I thought it very well-written. Fun to read. Fun to return to every day. This novel did something few novels can do: it made me laugh out loud. Yet it's also serious. The plot of Theft is essentially an art theft caper. That in itself isn't exciting, though it's clever ...more
I wish I could remember where I first heard of this book, years ago. (I believe it was a very positive review in some paper or on some website.) I promptly added it to my PaperbackSwap queue and was rewarded with it after much patience. Since then, I’ve been excited to get around to it. But it’s been quite disappointing, despite calling to mind elements of Palahniuk, Faulkner, and Steinbeck.

Pahalniuk because of the “edgy” writing, modern speaking voice, and general feel of disdain for the world.
Australia baffles me. The place, the people, the cultures are so foreign to me, everything I read (or see in films) by Australians has an air of mystification about it which leaves me scratching my head – “What just happened heah, mate?”

Peter Carey’s noir-ish tale of thievery in the art world would appear to bridge the gap between this cultural mystification and more familiar territory from the rest of the world. But it’s very essence of “Aussieness” dominates and I am left as confused as usual.
Tanuj Solanki
I share John Updike's words for he has said exactly what I would have wanted to say but would have been too incapable of putting across so well:

"Theft is not a superb novel; there is something displaced at its heart. Its colorful means keep us at one remove from the central action, which, in retrospect, is perfidious and shocking."

A more personal review will be added later.
“How do you know how much to pay if you don't know what it's worth?”

Don’t be deceived...this is not just a book about art and paintings and how they are created.

This is a love story. About different kinds of love. A man’s love of painting. His love for his brother who he can’t live without. And his love of a woman. Mix all this love together on one canvas and you get an amazing story. I really, really enjoyed this book. It absorbed me completely. Not just the story, not just that the story moves
Michael Boone, alias Butcher Bones, is a once celebrated Australian artist who’s just got out of jail for various crimes that resulted from his divorce and what he sees as the appropriation of his work as marital property. His reputation is in the toilet and he’s broke. His only benefactor, a collector named Jean-Paul, provides a rundown rural house in the far north of New South Wales and, there being no alternative, Michael and his retarded brother Hugh (for whom he’s legal guardian) light out ...more
Ron Charles
Peter Carey has a problem with telling the truth. And in one magnificent novel after another, he struggles to solve it. His criminal narrators in Jack Maggs and True History of the Kelly Gang plead their cases even as condemnation crashes down upon them. In My Life as a Fake , an act of literary fraud takes human form like Frankenstein's monster and pursues its creator to the ends of the earth.

Given his devious trajectory, a novel about modern art seems like an inevitable destination for Carey.

Carey, Peter. THEFT. (2006). ***. Carey, a writer from Australia, is a two-time winner of the Booker Prize (“Oscar & Lucinda,” and “The True History of the Kelly Gang.”) – the only other writer to do so being J. M. Coetze. His books are usually eminently readable and are full of wit and humor. He manages to draw his characters so perfectly that we think we know someone just like them – but wouldn’t admit it. In this novel he tells the story of two brothers: Michael “Butcher” Boone, and his y
Take a little bit of the movie Dominick & Eugene, plus a pinch of Of Mice and Men, throw in a dash of Les Miserables add a magnificent high-stakes art theft, murder and an international crime investigation and you get just a tip of the magnificent iceberg called THEFT: A LOVE STORY. This is the story of individual identity that explores the relationship between Michael "Butcher" Boone, a has-been Australian artist just released from the slammer and his mentally impaired two hundred twenty po ...more
Jul 15, 2008 Emilyfn rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Emilyfn by: my book club
If you want a vivid picture of the dark side of the international art world, very well written, read this; otherwise, go to the museum and meditate on some true art. Overall, I found this read gratuitously obscene; however, the author is a Booker Prize winner, and it was my book club selection, so I persisted and finished it. It is told from the alternating perspectives of two brothers, Michael, a famous painter, who has fallen from fame, divorced, (he refers to his former wife as the “Plaintiff ...more
I cant quite decide if I enjoyed this book or simply finished out of a sense of commitment to reach the end. The plot seemed captivating, hence why I started reading in the first place, but it was difficult to immerse myself wholly in the story. The unfamiliar landscape of Australia and constant jumps into individual trails of thought was both distracting and charming. One difficult tendency was the lack of segue between key events, often times travel and great changes were only offhandedly rema ...more
What I liked: 1) TWO unreliable narrators relating their versions of this tragi-comic tale (an Australian artist five years "out of style," and his mentally challenged brother.) 2) The author's ironic take on the wacky world of artists, collectors, agents, appraisers. 3) The rather intriguing twists of the art theft.

What I didn't like: 1)Having to interpret the Australian vernacular and the obtuse ramblings of the mentally damaged narrator. I had to re-read often to get the gist. 2)What really p
Theft is about art and art fakes, love and betrayal. The notions of both kinds of fraud are intertwined. Thank you, Peter Carey for an idiosyncratic writing style. Actually two first-person styles, one for a tormented love-stricken painter and the other for his mentally challenged brother.

What would you do if you were in love with a psychopath and realized you didn't care what sins that person might or might not have committed?

Fascinating also for the interwoven facts and culture of the real art
"How do you know how much to pay if don't know what it's worth?"

Seriously, I LOVE Carey. While this isn't his best, his good novels tend to kick the arse of most other writers. He is jumping on a trampoline of language while juggling multiple narratives of love, family, art and theft. For me this novel was like reading some mash-up of 'Of Mice and Men' and 'Vincent and Theo' all staged in multiple triangles of love and fraud.

It was bold, lustful, fierce and flawed. It showed how art and love ca
Great narration in two voices, one of an artist, once famous painter, Bill (Butcher) Bones, and the other one of his slow and crazy brother, Hugh (Slow) Bones. In the end, one didn’t prove crazier than the other; I liked them both too, and the whole book with its plot, tempo and the subject matter- art, artists, art dealers, love, swindles, and how art is assessed. It sucked me right in and didn’t relent until the very end. It’s very well written, ironic, intelligent, informative, facetious and ...more
Tom O'brien
To say Peter Carey has a way with words would be to do him a grave injustice. As with True History of the Kelly Gang, the reader relies on language to tell the half of the story not told by the two narrators. Carey is a craftsman, and language is his material.

As has been said in many other reviews, the novel is narrated by the Boone Brothers, Michael and Hugh. The first shares a cynical view on the world, whilst the second is a man of 'childlike emotional volatility'. Hugh's narrative is diffic
Carinya Kappler
Theft by Peter Carey Book Review
Carinya 16.03.2014
This is a roller coaster story, so full of ups, downs and curves that the characters are spinning out of control, lost in their own dysfunctional confusion.
The author uses his primary narrator, artist Butcher Bones, originally from Bacchus Marsh, to unwittingly expose the festering underbelly of the world of fine art collectors and authenticators. He is an artistic bright light on the wane, experiencing financial troubles, a failed marriage with
Jennifer D
i don't have a lot of peter carey experience. the only other book i have read by him is Parrot and Olivier in America. i think it was also a 3-star read for me. which isn't a bad thing...but i always feel that 3-star reads are books that, while fine, could have been better. so i get bummed out when i land on a 3-star rating. (aside: both of the carey novels i have read contain a privileged character named 'olivier' -- ummm...what's up with that, dude?)

anyway...theft was interesting but i felt ce
2.5 stars. i think.

the art world bores me to hell and back, it's about 50 pages too long, and who needs a seemingly extraneous dead puppy? not me, that's who.

still, there's some pretty stuff here. i'm having trouble gauging how i feel. that's been happening a lot lately. maybe i'll sleep on it.

ok, then.
Why this was shortlisted for the Booker prize I have no effing clue. Boring, tedious, unfunny and unbelievable, I forced myself on to the bitter end only because it was my book club pick. I will never regain those hours of my life - effectively flushed down the toilet - spent reading this waste of ink and paper. PFFFFTTT.
Hmmmm, not really sure how to review this one. It took me almost 200 pages to feel that I was 'into' the story, and then the rest was interesting enough, but also something of a slog. I found the plot really fun - a washed-up Australian painter, Butcher Bones, falls for a younger woman, Marlene, who seems to help resuscitate his career, but also happens to be (at the minimum) a likely art thief and art-world criminal, albeit a very clever one who married into artistic 'royalty' despite humble or ...more
I believe the narrative 'flaws' in this book were meant to be intentional, but the reading experience was just so simultaneously vulgar and bland I'm not sure how I could rate this more than 2 stars. I don't know how to describe this book except "gross," which normally wouldn't bother me so I'm not sure why it does in this case.

The commentary on art as a way of making money is somewhat interesting, as I heard this book was written because Peter Carey needed money at the time. Intentional or jus
Sophie Murray
Take one ex-famous painter, Lenny from Of Mice and Men, and Amy Dunne from Gone Girl. Shake well and see what happens. Apparently, Theft is what happens.

Michael "Butcher" Boone has had a string of bad luck. He was once a celebrated artist – in Australia, anyway – but his star is on the wane. He had a messy divorce, lost custody of his young son, and was jailed after trying to steal back his paintings from his ex-wife. Now, thanks to one of his collectors, Butcher is the unpaid caretaker for a co
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What happened to Hugh? 1 14 Apr 30, 2012 06:56AM  
  • Death of a River Guide
  • Kalooki Nights
  • Be Near Me
  • The Jesus Man
  • Fly Away Peter
  • The Solid Mandala
  • The Ruby in Her Navel
  • Get a Life
  • Dark Places
  • So Many Ways to Begin
  • The Riders
  • Eucalyptus
  • Dark Palace
  • For Love Alone
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...
Oscar and Lucinda True History of the Kelly Gang Parrot and Olivier in America Jack Maggs Bliss

Share This Book

“About her husband, i did actually enquire, but she held her private life so fucking tightly, like a tourist clutching a handbag on the A train,..” 2 likes
More quotes…