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Jack Maggs

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,267 ratings  ·  167 reviews
As a novelist, Peter Carey is hardly a stranger to the 19th century: his Oscar and Lucinda was a veritable treasure-trove of Victoriana. In this novel, however, Carey has set himself an even more complicated task--reimagining not only a vanished era but one of that era's masterpieces. Jack Maggs is a variation on Great Expectations, in which Dickens's tale is told from the...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published 1997 by University of Queensland Pr (Australia)
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(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
Paul
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
Michael Shilling
Apr 13, 2008 Michael Shilling rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.


Brian
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
Phillip
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...more
Shawn Lahr
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
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
Really 4.5. Another really good book (sort of) based on Great Expectations. Carey has wonderful characters.
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
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
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
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
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
Kristen
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
Kathleen
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
Mitchell
On a drizzly spring evening in 1837, the mysterious figure known as Jack Maggs makes his long-awaited return to London. Where he has been and why he has returned we do not know yet, but the first few pages of Jack Maggs are a delight to read, capturing the sights, sounds and smells of Dickensian London, and Maggs’ disorientation as he returns to a city he does not recognise, lit now with gas light: “The city had become a fairground, and as the coach crossed the river at Westminster the stranger...more
Nell
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
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.
Calzean
Jack Maggs is Carey's version of Magwitch, the convict in Great Expectations. Carey has turned Pip into a not very nice Henry Phipps. Dickens appears as Tobias Oates, a novelist and mesmerist. In 1837 Maggs returns to England, wanting to find Phipps. Phipps does not want to be found.

No subtlety here - childhood prostitution, abortion, adultery, convict punishment - are all part of the story. Carey highlights the plight of the poor, displaced and dispossessed and shows the injustice compared to t...more
Joanna
this has been sitting on my bookshelf for a few years now, purchased back on a whim and then shoved to the bottom of my stack where it waited until a vacation called it forth and tugged it along. over 27 hours in a vehicle i read about the man in the red waistcoat, wandering a dark and moody london, plagued with a faceless phantom, in his hessian boots. in between sleep and dreams, where the mysterious and stormy jack maggs continued to stride, i fell into his tale as it spider-webbed outward, s...more
Ron Charles
Peter Carey's latest novel, "Jack Maggs," roars by with all the beauty and violence of a summer thunderstorm.

Just as English playwright Tom Stoppard plucked Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from the periphery of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," so Carey has created a stunning story about the convict who surreptitiously adopts Pip in Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations."

The novel opens on the day Jack Maggs risks execution by returning from exile in Australia to find the young Londoner he has supported lavi...more
Tony
Carey, Peter. JACK MAGGS. (1997; US 1998). ****. Carey, the Booker Prize-winning author of “Oscar and Lucinda,” has managed to write a novel reminiscent of the style of Dickens, set in the early 19th Century. It is the story of Jack Maggs, a criminal transported to Australia for his crimes of thievery, who returns to England, at the risk of being discovered and re-transported, to find his adopted son. Over the years, he has been supporting a young boy who was kind to him on the day before he was...more
Emily
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Kenneth Dumas
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Peter
Homage to Dickens.

This is the first book that I have read by Peter Carey and was recommended to it by a friend but whilst I can see why she and others liked it it just didn't really do it for me.

Jack Maggs was sentenced to transportation for life to Australia due to thievery but whilst there he makes his fortune so supports a young orphan Henry Phipps who showed him some mercy when Phipps was a young boy. Maggs was brutalised as a child but pays for Phipps education in the hope that the latter...more
Marsha
It is strange how the passage of time can alter perception, can cast a new light on what we thought was a firm and fixed memory. The mere turn of nearly three years has brought me to a deep appreciation of this book that I once considered deadly dull.

In my initial consideration, the fault lay with the titular character. Jack Maggs reveals himself at the very onset as a scoundrel, one equally prone to mild, constant deception and capable of vile murder. His character is laid out in the author’s p...more
Kathleen Dixon
Ignorance is bliss, they say, though they usually look down somewhat patronisingly on the ignorant, which rather belies the phrase. Oh well, I'm hereby laying myself open to any who wish to feel better about themselves by patronising me - - - I had no idea until I'd finished this book and was glancing through a few other reviews that this book had anything in common with the one-and-only, the famous Great Expectations. Except it's not a one-and-only, clearly, any more.

We read one Dickens novel a...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
More about Peter Carey...
Oscar and Lucinda True History of the Kelly Gang Parrot and Olivier in America Theft: A Love Story The Chemistry of Tears

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