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Jack Maggs

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  3,083 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
A foundling trained in the art of thievery, Jack Maggs was betrayed and deported to Australia for life. But now, having reversed his fortunes, he seeks to fulfill his innermost desire. Returning to London under threat of execution, he's quickly embroiled in various entanglements among a handful of characters — each with their own secrets. And as their various schemes conve ...more
Paperback, 355 pages
Published February 22nd 1999 by Vintage Canada (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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mark monday
a tidy, pleasant entry within the wildly popular Victorian Mystery subgenre. or in this case, the slightly pre-Victorian Mystery subgenre. what is it about this era that holds so much fascination for readers? the most obvious guess is that the fans of these fictions always know that they will be enjoying luxurious expanses of gothic description, built on a foundation of cosseted repression meets wondrous discovery. Jack Maggs does not fail to satisfy on that level - and it is about a tenth the s ...more
Paul
Jun 14, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
An almost 4 stars rounded up
This is an intelligent reworking of Great Expectations from the point of view of the convict; the eponymous Jack Maggs. Carey has a habit of doing this in his novels. The Unusual life of Tristan Smith relates to Sterne and Oscar and Lucinda is a reworking of Gosse’s Father and Son.
Carey populates the novel with fantastical characters and fully immerses himself in Dickensian London with some vivid descriptive passages. Jack Maggs returns from Australia in secret (he h
...more
Maria Thomarey
3,5 απολαυστικό
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Time and place were chosen specially to make this magnificent stylization to Charles Dickens particularly credible.
“Now, each day in the Morning Chronicle, each fortnight in the Observer, it was Tobias Oates who ‘made’ the City of London. With a passion he barely understood himself, he named it, mapped it, widened its great streets, narrowed its dingy lanes, framed its scenes with the melancholy windows of his childhood. In this way, he invented a respectable life for himself: a wife, a babe, a
...more
Michael Shilling
Apr 13, 2008 Michael Shilling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy Victorian London as the deepest expression of slow-cured sorrow
Interesting to read a book about Victorians that is completely driven by dialogue, as opposed to the thick soup of expository language that is sometimes beautiful -- such as in Bleak House -- and sometimes awful -- such as in Bleak House. And on that note, Carey doesn't write like Dickens at all; with Carey, you don't the intense highs and lugubrious lows, but you do get to start a book you may actually finish.


Bettie☯
Dedication: For Alison

Author's Note: The author willingly admits to having once or twice stretched history to suit his own historical ends.

Front quote ia a lengthy extract from Du magnétisme animal (1820) by Armand Marie Jacques de Chastenet, Marquis de Puységur.

Opening: It was a Saturday night when the man with the red waistcoat arrived in London. It was, to be precise, six of the clock on the fifteenth of April in the year of 1837 that those hooded eyes looked out the window of the Dover coach
...more
Brian
Jan 20, 2009 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A post-colonial reworking of the story of Great Expectations, Jack Maggs is the tale of a transported convict who returns secretly to England to see Henry Phipps, the adopted son whose education he has financed. Unlike Great Expectations however, the convict's story is the central narrative of the book, rather than that of the young gentleman he has secretly fostered. Jack Maggs has known very little kindness in his life and this does not change when he finally meets up with Henry. He returns to ...more
Ann
Nov 08, 2014 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An engrossing old-fashioned story about a stranger with a mysterious past arriving in London in the 1800s. Jack Maggs lives an adventure, with twisting, turning motives and secrets. Seeking a man at an abandoned house, he is taken on as a footman at the house next door, merely because of his height. Learning the skills of the job prove to be hilarious, though there is the looming threat of the hangman's noose. Mesmerism is the manner that reveals some of his criminal past, as does a letter he wr ...more
Subiaco Library
The story goes that Peter Carey read Charles Dickens‘s Great Expectations and felt that the convict character Magwitch, as an example of an early Australian, was treated badly. Carey also thought that perhaps Dickens‘s had known a person like Magwitch and had unfairly exploited his misfortune. An inspired Carey set out to write Jack Maggs. Maggs is a Magwitch type character and there is also Tobias Oates, writer and practitioner of magnetism (hypnotism), who is an analogue of Dickens.

At first I
...more
Phillip
May 22, 2012 Phillip rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20th-century
I really liked this book as I was reading it, and I found I liked it even more after we began discussing it in class today. Carey's style is Dickens-esque, but in such a way that draws our attention to the ackwardness of approaching Dickens as a modern reader--many of the slang terms his audience would have known are foreign to us today, many of the place names meaningless in post-blitz London (even more so for those unfamiliar with either contemporary or historical London), and his narrative pa ...more
Shawn Lahr
Jan 18, 2010 Shawn Lahr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favs
What a fun book to read! I was thoroughly caught up in the story and in the weirdness of Carey's Dickensian characters. I was especially delighted to dislike Percy Buckle at first, then to like him and think him nobel for saving poor Mercy Larkin--I thought he would be a kind of traditional Dickensian minor hero--then to despise him even more for learning what he does to her, and finally to laugh at him as he encounters his injured front door. And yet, somehow, I feel pity for him as Mercy sees ...more
Adrienne Jones
Sep 27, 2008 Adrienne Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Because of a love for Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang I picked up this book at a library used book sale, and it sat in a box for over a year.

Late one night I found myself without any late night reading material. A recently unpacked copy of Jack Maggs stared back at me from our book shelves.

What a fabulous find. The period, setting, and characters are often compared with Dickens, but they so exceed Dickens' 2-dimensional approach.

I stayed up much later than late to find out the mysterious
...more
Merilee
Jan 10, 2010 Merilee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 4.5. Another really good book (sort of) based on Great Expectations. Carey has wonderful characters.
Amie
Jan 24, 2017 Amie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
*currently reading*
Luke
Feb 21, 2015 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Carey became one of my favourite authors from my HSC study of Oscar and Lucinda. I suspect the reason behind this was that that work was set in the same period as some of the other (to my younger self) fusty works but brimmed with self-confidence and interest.

I've managed to reread it on an almost yearly basis since I first devoured it (the night before a reading diary was due - one I'd supposedly been writing all holidays) though in the years since I've discovered that this compulsive co
...more
James
Have you ever read Great Expectations? The main character Philip Pirrip ,known as Pip, runs into a convict in the opening scene of the novel. This is Abel Magwitch who meets young Pip at a graveyard. Magwitch tricks the seven-year-old boy into believing that he has an accomplice who is a terrible young man who would tear out and eat Pip's heart and liver if Pip did not help them. Pip, terrified, steals a pork pie, brandy and a file from his house and brings them to Magwitch the next morning. The ...more
James Barker
'Great Expectations' is one of my favourite of the classics, and ever since reading 'The true History of the Kelly Gang' I believe Peter Carey is unsurpassable at his best. So, this post-colonial re-telling of Pip's benefactor, the glorious Magwitch, should have been right up my street.

Well, it was and it wasn't.

Carey manages to get into the heart (and bowels) of Victorian London and his descriptive skill is as sharp as ever. The cast of supporting characters are appropriately Dickensian but ha
...more
Barb
I have not read Dickens...*gasps noted*...it's true. So, I cannot make any clever comparisons between the two authors' works or make any comment on Carey's depiction of the obsessive author in this novel being like Dickens, I really don't know enough to say.

What I do know is that I loved this book. The writing is wonderful, the characters are complex and the story is bittersweet, in other words the perfect recipe for a great novel.

It reminded me of 'Fingersmith' by Sarah Waters which is also s
...more
Julie
I loved this book! This is the story based on Dickens' Great Expectations, but told through the eyes of Jack Maggs (Magwitch in GE). Maggs meets young orphan Henry Phipps (Pip in GE) as a convict on his way to sentencing in Australia. Henry shows him kindness by giving him some food. Maggs remembers this single act of compassion and after serving his prison sentence and making a large fortune in Australia, sends a large monthly allowance which provides Henry with a very idle and rich life. Maggs ...more
Kristen
Sep 02, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun book, especially if you know anything about Charles Dickens' life. Carey tackles the task of giving voice to the Australian convict who gives Pip his inheritance, but in such a way that the character (Jack Maggs) interacts with Dickens. It's a commentary on the appropriation of identity and the inherent dangers that lie in the dictatorship that it entails. But it's also a quick, enjoyable read even if you just skim the surface and stick to the plot. Carey's writing is colorful, aut ...more
Amelia, the pragmatic idealist


To be fair, this is probably a really good book, and if I ever read it again, I might just like it.

Trouble is, I read this book when I was 12. Ummm....that was a mistake on my part (and my parents, haha), but still--quite disturbing! And pretty sure I won't be reading it again for awhile, just because every time I think of it, I always remember "that scene." :[
Anyway, the moral of the story is--parents, check what your kids are reading! And kids, I don't care how mature you are, some stuff just
...more
Timothy Moriarty
I quit Maggs about halfway through. I wanted to like it; it's got a Dickens-like ring to it, though leaner language, much more narrow scope, very slight attempt at humor or warmth....hell, I tried not to compare it to Dickens, but whether I succeeded or not is an open question. I just know I grew bored, then actively irritated. No characters to latch onto, everyone's motives very murky with no light in sight - just not much life to it and very little interesting detail of the period, unless you ...more
Sylvester
2.5* I can't decide whether the tie to "Great Expectations" helps this book or not. If I could have read it without thinking about how it was different from or similar to the Dickens plot, I think I would have enjoyed it more. Not to say that I didn't enjoy it. Carey is an excellent writer, and this book, of the ones I've read, was the easiest to read by far. My advice to those wanting to read this - think of it as a study of Jack Maggs as a character, rather than reading with the shades of "Gre ...more
Nell
Jan 06, 2013 Nell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ereader
This book has all the fun of Dickens without the long sentences but with the twisty turny plot and cast of orphans, criminals, charlatans, arrivistes, and backyard abortionists. There's a bit in the middle where nothing happens for a while but don't be put off, stuff eventually starts happening again and it's great!
Alison
Deported to Oz, JM returns to find his 'son'. explores his power over others -the 'criminal' vs power of mesmerising/ magnetism, hypnotism and possession. Good story, Dickensian flavour.vivid people and places
Pamela
Dec 20, 2008 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It reveals the dark side of Dickens' Great Expectations, and its postcolonialism haunts in much the same way of Wide Sargasso Sea.
Zuberino
বই রিভিউ - একটি একসপেরিমেনট

https://soundcloud.com/user-327202170...
...more
Pip
Feb 06, 2017 Pip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have loved Peter Carey since I was first introduced by my daughter to The Fat Man in History. I read Bliss, Illywhacker (with its wonderful use of Australian idiom) Oscar and Lucinda and The Tax Inspector, more or less when they were published. But I have read nothing since, although the True History of the Kelly Gang has been in my TBR pile for some years.
So I jumped at the chance to read another Carey, and I have not been disappointed. Just as Oscar and Lucinda was a reworking of Gosse's Fat
...more
David
Jan 11, 2017 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't bad. It brought forth an entertaining little world, though it did feel a bit like a watered-down version of The Count of Monte Cristo crossed with Sweeney Todd, minus revenge or as understandable motivation. I preferred The Fat Man in History, though I did like this better than His Illegal Self. It wasn't too bad, though it didn't thrill me greatly.
Uthpala Dassanayake
Jack Maggs is like a Dickens novel in coarser manner. It is much more interesting compared to only other Peter Carey I read ‘Illywacker’. Almost a thriller. But cannot call outstanding novel in any way.
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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
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