Megan Chance's Reviews > Wanting

Wanting by Richard Flanagan
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Apr 25, 2012

really liked it
Read on April 25, 2012

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 how that led Dickens to meeting the woman widely speculated to have been his mistress in his later years, and one about Sir John Franklin, the inspiration for Collins and Dickens, who ultimately disappeared seeking the Northwest Passage, and his wife, Jane, who never stopped sending expeditions in search of him. As I'd read both "The Terror" and "Drood," by Dan Simmons, which are novels about both of these people, I was pretty familiar with the territory already. What Flanagan does is take isolated incidents in the lives of these people and speculate on their emotional landscapes. It really snuck up on me, and I ended up thinking about it quite a bit. It's short and bittersweet.
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