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

Wanting

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  1,580 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews
In 1841, and in the remote penal colony of Van Diemen's Land, a barefoot aboriginal girl wearing a red silk dress sits for her portrait. She is Mathinna, the adopted daughter of the island's governor, Sir John Franklin, and his wife, Lady Jane. Somewhere in the Arctic, Sir John Franklin has disappeared, along with his crew and two ships.
Paperback, 252 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by Atlantic (first published January 1st 2008)
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 Wanting, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wanting

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

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Bennet
Dec 08, 2012 Bennet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-stories
You see, reason, gentlemen, is a fine thing, that is unquestionable, but reason is only reason and satisfies only man's reasoning capacity, while wanting is a manifestation of the whole of life.
-- Fyodor Dostoevsky

I’ve rarely read anything as compelling and heartbreaking as Flanagan’s description of the failed marriage of Charles and Catherine Dickens, except perhaps his account of the devastating adoption and “civilizing” of a beautiful and precocious Aboriginal orphan girl named Mathinna by
...more
·Karen·
Jan 08, 2010 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The distance between savagery and civilisation is the extent we advance from desire to reason... As for the noble savage, I call him an enormous nuisance and I don't care what he calls me. It is all one to me whether he boils his brother in a kettle or dresses as a seal. He can yield to whatever passion he wishes, but for that very reason he is a savage.." Thus the fictional Charles Dickens who is engaged by Lady Jane Franklin to refute the 'slander' cast on her husband that he, one of "England ...more
Tony
Feb 15, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
Charles Dickens, in domestic despond. Lady Jane Franklin, childless, and now a husband lost. Mathinna, her bare feet searching for answers in the aboriginal muck. All wanting.

Like Colum McCann, Richard Flanagan here takes the threads of historical moments and splices them thematically. The writing is superb. I fairly inhaled this.

Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Wanting follows two interconnected storylines set about twenty-five years apart: that of Mathinna, an Aboriginal girl sent to live with the last of the Tasmanian Aborigines at the settlement of Wybalenna on Flinders Island; and Charles Dickens, the lauded actor and author and friend to Lady Jane Franklin, wife of the ex-Governor of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), Sir John Franklin. She asks Dickens to help refute the story that Sir John and his men had resorted to cannibalism in order to survive w ...more
Diane S ☔
Middle of the eighteen-hundreds on the penal colony ofn Van Dieman's Land and temporary home of the man they call"the Protector" sent to clean up the so called native problem. The Governor of the colony, Sir John Fielding and his wife Jane are coming to inspect the colony. Jane who is unable to have a child, falls for one of the laughing and dancing native children young Mathinna and adopts her, calling it a sociological experiment.

Back in England Dickens, who is stifled and unhappy in his marri
...more
Jill
Apr 21, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Wow” seems insufficient for a book that engaged, entranced and astonished me. Suffice to say I’ve just discovered a new author who will definitely be explored.

WANTING falls under the category that is now known as “faction” – fiction based on actual events. Three stories are interwoven: Sir John Franklin – the polar explorer who disappeared while attempting to find the Northwest Passage and his wife Lady Jane, in flashbacks to when they governed the penal colony of what is now Tasmania. Charles
...more
Marianne
Jul 05, 2014 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wanting is the fifth novel by award-winning Australian author, Richard Flanagan. In 1841, Mathinna, an orphaned young Aboriginal girl, one of the remaining Van Diemen’s Land indigenous who were kept on Flinders Island, was plucked from the “care” of George Augustus Robinson, the Chief Protector of Aborigines, to become the subject of an experiment in civilisation of the savage, conducted by the Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, Sir John Franklin and his wife, Lady Jane Franklin.

Mathinna loved the
...more
Magdalena
Dec 03, 2008 Magdalena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the key objections I had to Richard Flanagan’s last novel, The Unknown Terrorist was that it put the ideology first: making a political point at the expense of the characters and the plot. This isn't at all the case in Wanting. Indeed, in Wanting, as in Gould’s Book of Fish, the whole notion of historical fact becomes subservient to the greater truth – that of human nature – the most fundamental of emotional responses and how they underpin the making of history. Wanting is a novel that tr ...more
Jim
Mar 13, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pieces of this strange novel take place at the antipodes: Britain and Tasmania. On one hand, there is the Tasmanian Aborigine girl Mathinna with her oddly winning ways, being pursued by the childless wife of Sir John Franklin, the Arctic explorer. On the other is Charles Dickens, giving up on her wife Catherine, with whom he had ten children, and taking up with the fetching young actress Ellen Ternan.

I had read Richard Flanagan's great novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North a couple months ago.
...more
Merilee
Sep 23, 2009 Merilee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent novel set in Tasmania and London involving Charles Dickens and John Franklin, the Antarctic explorer and his wife, Lady Jane.
Ben Babcock
We all want things. Sometimes the things we think we want are not the things we really want. Usually, the wanting is better than having. These are all familiar feelings that Richard Flanagan plays with in the aptly-named Wanting. His exploration of these ideas is deft and interesting, but the book lacks an overall unity to make it truly memorable or amazing.

I’m perplexed by Wanting’s structure, which is split between the early 1840s, when Franklin was governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), an
...more
Nancy Oakes
Mar 11, 2011 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
"You can have whatever you want, only you discover there is always a price. The question is -- can you pay?"

So writes Charles Dickens in one of his notebooks, reflecting the main theme of this novel -- human desires and the consequences of acting on or denying them.

Wanting is set during two different time periods and in two different countries, with two separate narratives. The link from the past to the novel's present is Lady Jane Franklin, wife of Sir John Franklin, who served as Governor of V
...more
Marguerite Kaye
As a literary exercise, this was an excellent book. As a novel, for me, it just didn't quite work.

There are two stories set about twenty years apart. In the first, in Van Diemen's Land, the British-run penal colony, John Franklyn and his wife have taken over the governorship and 'adopted' a native girl. The plan is to convert her from savage to a 'true' English woman, to demonstrate to the world the 'superiority' of Englishness, and to 'prove' that it can triumph over even what they perceived t
...more
Dominika Mat
Dzięki uprzejmości Wydawnictwa Literackiego miałam możliwość zapoznania się z twórczością uznanego australijskiego pisarza Richarda Flanagana, zdobywcy prestiżowej Nagrody Bookera. „Pragnienie” to napisana wykwintnym językiem książka skoncentrowana z jednej strony wokół życia i literackiej działalności Charlesa Dickensa, a z drugiej wokół aborygeńskiej księżniczki Mathinny, adoptowanej przez angielskich arystokratów w ramach pewnego rodzaju eksperymentu oswojenia plemiennej dzikości.

Flanagan ni
...more
Asma
Sep 03, 2015 Asma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have followed the Flanagan novels since the first one Death of a River Guide. Like the former novels, Wanting is a combination of tragedy and hopeful humanity and is set in a period of Tasmanian history. This one has a similar setting with Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish, i.e., the relatively early settlement of Tasmania. The difference here is focus on Aborigine hardships by official policy; whereas Fish is focused on the convicts and commanders of the penal colony. Like Fish the ...more
Gemma Nugent
I am not sure why but I am drawn to novels set in Tasmania, both contemporary (Cate Kennedy's "The World Beneath", which I loved) and historical. "Wanting" falls into the latter category and showcases Flanagan's affinity for Tasmania and its landscape. His treatment of the fractured relationship between European settlers and the dwindling indigenous population was novel and (perhaps because of that) very confronting. The theme of human desires emerged strongly through the interweaving of Methinn ...more
Bettie☯
Dec 21, 2009 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Pressie from Clare


The war had ended as wars sometimes do, unexpectedly.

Page 198 - It was 1844. The last pair of great auks in the world had just been killed, Friedrich Nietzsche born, and Samuel Morse sent the first electrical communication in history. It was a telegram that read: 'What hath God wrought'.
Ron Charles
Jan 02, 2014 Ron Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of a girl subjected to a deadly social experiment more than century ago has haunted the Tasmanian novelist Richard Flanagan for decades. As a young man, he was looking at some early-19th-century paintings at the Hobart Museum, when he spotted a watercolor of a child in a pretty red dress. The curator explained that she was Mathinna, an aboriginal child taken in by the renowned Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin in the 1830s while he was lieutenant governor of Tasmania, then called Van D ...more
Carolyn
Oct 09, 2009 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"You see, reason, gentlemen, is a fine thing, that is unquestionable, but reason is only reason and satisfies only man's reasoning capacity, while wanting is a manifestation of the whole of life." -- Fyodor Dostoevsky.

"That which is wanting cannot be numbered." -- Ecclesiastes

With these two quotes as introduction, Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan ("Gould's Book of Fish") raises the curtain on two intersecting tales of men who both want and are wanting, and the effluvia of their desires.

In one
...more
Florina
Dec 01, 2016 Florina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written book about thwarted desire; namely the desire to possess another human being. Flanagan splits the plot between two stories that seem disparate at first, but are very much thematically linked. On the one hand, we have the captivating tale of Charles Dickens' love affair with actress Ellen Ternan, on the other hand, the mesmerizing and horrific account of the Aboriginal Mathinna, in 19th century Tasmania. What unites these two diverging stories is the idea of "wanting ...more
Felice
Feb 20, 2011 Felice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With incredible feeling and spare writing author Richard Flanagan intertwines his novel Wanting with the stories of several historical figures over the course of twenty five years in the mid 19th century with a young Aboriginal girl, Mary and the disappearance of an expedition trying to locate The Northwest Passage. Mary was the daughter of a Tasmanian chief. She arrives into the story when in the 1830's George Augutus Robinson comes to Tasmania as a mediator between the Tasmanians and the white ...more
Helen King
A thought provoking book about early European settlement of Van Dieman's land, and, in so many ways, how much it was hashed up because of self interest and a lack of recognition of others (aboriginal people, those transported, those who really didn't know what they were trying to achieve). I think Richard Flanagan has been deliberately sensitive in his portrayal of the original inhabitants, understandably, but it has meant their stories are underplayed - they are victims (which is true) but they ...more
Tien
Charles Dickens in London was struggling with his inner self. His wife and children do not appear to satisfy him any longer. Everything at home irritated him and he longed… oh, he longed for something…

’The way we are denied love,’ he [Dickens] continued, and she, along with the audience, could hear how hard it was for him to say these words. ‘And the way we suddenly discover it being offered to us, in all its pain and infinite heartbreak. The way we say no to love.’

Whilst in Van Diemen’s Land (i
...more
Megan Chance
Apr 25, 2012 Megan Chance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book. As the author says in his acknowledgements, it's a meditation on desire--on what happens when it's suppressed, and what happens when it's not, for good or evil. He explores this by writing parallel stories--one about Charles Dickens and his short acting career--he and Wilkie Collins wrote a play based on Sir John Franklin's explorations looking for the Northwest Passage, a play Dickens acted in himself, becoming somewhat more of a sensation than he already was-- and ...more
Clare
Oct 21, 2009 Clare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


What I learned from Wanting is embodied in a short line in Chapter 1:

'Though he was weaning them off their native
diet of berries and plants and shellfish and
game, and onto flour and sugar and tea, their
health seemed in no way comparable to what it
had been.'

Ah, the folly of "civilized" beings who impose their way of life upon the "savages" of the world.

Wanting contains many stories: the tale of a haughty woman who chooses social experimentation over genuine love,the lessons of a writer who
...more
Collin Shea
As another reviewer said, this was a slow book to read, especially considering that it's not very long. Slow is not always or necessarily or a bad thing and this book does have a lot to offer, although somehow it just never fully captivated me.
I always appreciate a book that has me reaching for a dictionary, although with this book I did find at least one instance in which I'm not sure that the meaning of a word was conveyed appropriately.
I very much enjoyed Flanagan's descriptions of nature, da
...more
Owca z Książką
Jan 29, 2017 Owca z Książką rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Głównym tematem tej powieści są ludzkie namiętności zawieszone w różnych płaszczyznach czasowych (choć w ramach XIX wieku) i umieszczone na odległych od siebie punktach współrzędnych geograficznych. Wiąże je krótkie spotkanie Lady Franklin oraz Charlesa Dickensa, dzięki któremu możemy śledzić losy dwóch niezależnych od siebie historii. Dwa różne sznurki związane ze sobą końcami tworzą linię rozciągającą się między Ziemią Van Diemena a smutną, brudną Anglią. To linia ludzkich marzeń, a może tylko ...more
Emma
I don't know, why was Dickens in this book? I kept feeling like it was all a bit forced; but maybe this is a hangover from the Bolano (how do I do that Latin 'nye' sound tilde thing? hmm), which was rambling and unforced. I felt a bit that the book was reveling in its historicity, and setting up a pair of stories that I knew exactly the ending of. Perhaps this is a result of spending a few weeks in Tassie last month.

It must be hard to write a book from the points of view of so many unsympatheti
...more
Catherine Siemann
A very brief, modern book about Victorians. The novel is comprised of alternating stories of Charles Dickens, his disintegrating marriage, and his dawning love for Ellen Ternan, and of Mathinna, a Tasmanian aborigine adopted by Sir Richard Franklin (Arctic explorer and captain of the Terror, and his wife Lady Jane (who enters into Dickens's narrative as well). Mathinna's story is almost unrelentingly grim; Dickens's less so; both deal with the nature of desire and longing -- wanting.

The novel sk
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Carpentaria
  • The World Beneath
  • That Deadman Dance
  • The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
  • A Fringe of Leaves
  • That Eye, the Sky
  • Remembering Babylon
  • Lilian's Story
  • Romulus, My Father
  • Grand Days
  • Journey to the Stone Country
  • The White Earth
  • Capricornia
  • It's Raining in Mango
  • For Love Alone
  • The Memory Room
  • Tall Man: The Death of Doomadgee
  • The Broken Shore
8864
Richard Flanagan (born 1961) is an author, historian and film director from Tasmania, Australia. He was president of the Tasmania University Union and a Rhodes Scholar. Each of his novels has attracted major praise. His first, Death of a River Guide (1994), was short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, as were his next two, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997) and Gould's Book of Fish (2001). Hi ...more
More about Richard Flanagan...

Share This Book



No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“He continued to believe that, like everything else in his life, it would be righted by the sheer force of his will” 0 likes
“You see, reason, gentlemen, is a fine thing, that is unquestionable, but reason is only reason and satisfies only man’s reasoning capacity, while wanting is a manifestation of the whole of life. Fyodor Dostoevsky” 0 likes
More quotes…