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Jack Maggs
Peter Carey
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Jack Maggs

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,935 Ratings  ·  198 Reviews
Jack Maggs is a foundling, well-trained in the art of thievery. Betrayed and deported to Australia, Jack has reversed his fortunes and despite the threat of execution, returns "home." Jack finagles his way into a household where he quickly becomes embroiled in emotional entanglements and where he falls under the hypnotic scrutiny of Tobias Oates. As various cabals converge ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 530 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Thorndike Press (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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
Maria Thomarey
3,5 απολαυστικό
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.

Vit Babenco
Jan 27, 2015 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
Jun 28, 2011 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
Nov 17, 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
Jun 04, 2012 Phillip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Shawn Lahr
Jan 28, 2015 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
Ro Prufrock
((maybe i'm just really excitable lately but i feel everything i read is just so great?!))

anyway. i really enjoyed reading the book, it had a decently dickensy feel & the plot (as well as the revelations about the characters' pasts) kept me entertained & i even felt some sympathy and/or empathy vibes!! v good.

what i found funny (in the sense of 'amusing' not, 'strange'):

at some times, especially when he interacted w/ Mercy, Jack reminded me of these Handsome Brooding Hero types in ya fan
Mar 30, 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
Jul 29, 2011 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.
I have not read Dickens...*gasps noted*'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
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
Jan 15, 2009 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
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
May 06, 2009 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
Sep 21, 2014 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sort of book that is commonly labeled “Dickensian,” though it is anything but. Yes, it is set in Victorian London and, yes, Dickens himself, thinly disguised as author Tobias Oates, is a protagonist, but in tone this novel is far more relentlessly sinister than Dickens’ own novels. This is a dark work that dwells, not on the foibles of human nature, but on its savagery. It is a grim and depressing look into the darkness that lies in each of its character’s souls, and is unrelieved by ...more
Sep 25, 2015 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Oh. My. God. This book is BANANANANANANAS! When I learnt that this is a parallel novel for Dickens''Great Expectations', I had no high hopes. I liked that novel but I would not consider it as a favourite. However 'Jack Maggs' is just SO GOOD. I literally devoured the story in three days where usually I take a week just to finish a hundred pages or so.

You must expect plot twists. Tons of them. Prepare to get your heart strings tugged and pulled at, and to cling at y
Anthony Peter
Jun 30, 2015 Anthony Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars because I thought this was a perfect novel working as both a straightforward modernist narrative and as a post-colonial / intertextual piece of art, enjoyable both at literal and popular, and at metaphorical and subtextual levels. Better than 'Ulysses'? Well, I don't know, but I'm prepared to give Mr Carey 5 stars.

At the same time as finishing 'Jack Maggs', I was re-reading 'The Task', and thought the following passage summarised one of my responses to the novel:

God made the country,
Jan 11, 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!
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
Jan 01, 2009 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.
Lauren Pegler
I had to read this book for my university course, and it was probably the first novel that I actually enjoyed for this module. Essentially the author of this book, Peter Carey, took certain aspects of Dicken's Great Expectations and twisted them to suit his story. I felt this was a very good adaptation of Dicken's massive book and perhaps could be considered better than this legendary classic. I enjoyed how Carey explored his story in the Victorian era as well as how he centred the story on Magg ...more
Felice Picano
It's not Victorian. It's a Regency novel. So let's get that straight. At one point reference is made to a portrait of the current Prince George IV, Regent of England. Victoria isn't yet on the throne. Second, Carey had obviously taken the fabulously mysterious and entertaining opening pages of Great Expectations as his starting off point, but he does very little with it actually, and what he does is sort of turning it upside down, which is not the greatest feat.But maybe that isn't the point at ...more
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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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