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


3.44  ·  Rating details ·  2,855 Ratings  ·  342 Reviews
Michael "Butcher" Boone is an ex-“really famous" painter, now reduced to living in a remote country house and acting as caretaker for his younger brother, Hugh. Alone together they've forged a delicate equilibrium, a balance instantly destroyed when a mysterious young woman named Marlene walks out of a rainstorm and into their lives. Beautiful, smart, and ambitious, she's ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2006)
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 Theft, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

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
I'm a Peter Carey junkie, slowly coming down again from the wild rush that his books give me. There's hardly a writer whose books are just so much damned FUN. This is another example of his versatility and originality, especially obvious in the two narrative voices of the two brothers, so different at the beginning of the book, but that seem to approach each other more and more. It becomes clearer and clearer that Butcher Bones is the less reliable of the two, his 'damaged' brother Hugh, the 'id ...more
David Katzman
Sometimes character voice makes the story, sometimes it overwhelms it. In this case, Carey writes characters that have such powerful voices, they make the plot tertiary. And unfortunately, the characters were rather pushy and domineering and that made them annoying.

This is my sixth Peter Carey book, and I've usually loved him. This time, he got on my nerves. Theft: A Love Story is about two brothers in Australia, one is an arrogant, short-tempered artist who was once successful and building a pr
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You could say one difference between what is termed literary fiction and commercial fiction is often simply the imaginative depth with which the author animates his or her characters. You get the sense throughout Theft that Carey knows his characters as well as he knows himself. As if he has access to every corner of their memory; knows every leap and retraction of their heart. This imaginative reach makes them tremendously engaging.

Theft is narrated alternatively by two brothers. Michael "Butc
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
The more I read of Peter Carey, the better I like him. I found "Oscar and Lucinda" tough sledding. "My life as a Fake" explored some interesting ideas, but wasn't altogether successful, in my opinion. In "Theft", Carey revisits some of the themes which clearly continue to interest him - Australian art and literature, and how they are perceived both within and outside Australia. "My Life as a Fake" dealt with literature and made obvious reference to the infamous "Ern Malley" literary hoax of the ...more
Saleh MoonWalker
Carey frames a story that shifts before our eyes -- maddeningly complex, hypnotically brilliant, entirely original.
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: bookclub
I really didn't care for this book. It was a painful read. The story is told by two narrators: an artist, who is a bit crazy and a drunk, and his brother, who is mentally challenged (though you never really learn what his diagnosis is). It is told in a stream of consciousness and the chapters can be very hard to follow. It tells the story of the theft of a famous piece of art in Australia and how it intertwines with this artist's life. It improves as the story unfolds, but I just found myself wa ...more
Apr 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carey’s humor is transcendent in this book. It’s the story of Michael, an alcoholic nearing middle age painter who leaves the detritus of his failed marriage and some legal tussles in Australia and immigrates to New York city with his new (and ever scheming) love and his mentally challenged brother Hugh (though you find yourself continually wondering who has the largest handicap, Michael or Hugh). Most of the happenings are tragic but you find yourself laughing anyway especially reading Hugh’s t ...more
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
"How can you know how much to pay if you have no bloody idea of what it's worth?"
-- Peter Carey, Theft


Seriously, I LOVE Carey. While this isn't his best, his good novels tend to kick the arse of most other writers. He is jumping on a trampoline of language while juggling multiple narratives of love, family, art and theft. For me this novel was like reading some mash-up of 'Of Mice and Men' and 'Vincent and Theo' all staged in multiple triangles of love and fraud.

Like many of Carey's novels (Ja
Book Concierge
Book on CD narrated by Simon Vance

Michael “Butcher” Boone used to be a famous painter. Now, following a messy divorce and a jail term and thanks to the largess of a former patron, he’s living on a remote estate with his developmentally delayed brother, Hugh. One rainy day a beautiful young woman appears at their door in a downpour. Marlene is smart and driven, and also the daughter-in-law of the late Jacques Leibowitz, a painter of world renown, and one of Michael’s early influences. She’s nice
Robert W
Sep 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake and Wrong About Japan, and didn’t like either of them. I just couldn’t get hooked into the effusively praised My Life as a Fake, and Wrong About Japan, though it had a few clever insights, seemed too slight to be a book.

So I wasn’t planning to read any more Carey, but a review of Theft made me waver. I like books about fictional artists, and the subject of art crime and fraud has long interested me. The fine art trade is very lightly regulated, but places a
Soumen Daschoudhury
May 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Art lovers maybe
I somehow thought, when I had the book in my hands, considering the praises on its cover, that it would be a fun ride, a journey of guffaws and cunning smirks but alas, deceived and dejected! In a single sentence, I didn’t find anything great about the story.

So, Michael ‘Butcher’ Boone is an artist, a cranky profane one, is recently divorced losing a substantial count of his paintings and his child to the “Alimony whore” as he puts it. And Hugh ‘Slow’ Bones is his brother, slow in the mind and
I cant quite decide if I enjoyed this book or simply finished out of a sense of commitment to reach the end. The plot seemed captivating, hence why I started reading in the first place, but it was difficult to immerse myself wholly in the story. The unfamiliar landscape of Australia and constant jumps into individual trails of thought was both distracting and charming. One difficult tendency was the lack of segue between key events, often times travel and great changes were only offhandedly rema ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
I wish I could remember where I first heard of this book, years ago. (I believe it was a very positive review in some paper or on some website.) I promptly added it to my PaperbackSwap queue and was rewarded with it after much patience. Since then, I’ve been excited to get around to it. But it’s been quite disappointing, despite calling to mind elements of Palahniuk, Faulkner, and Steinbeck.

Pahalniuk because of the “edgy” writing, modern speaking voice, and general feel of disdain for the world.
Apr 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book! This is one worth sticking through, for the ending is really killer. I had my doubts in the beginning, but the novel really delivered. I loved the alternating first person POVs. (My novel does the same thing, and I've been struggling with it. Now I feel like I can move forward.) I grew to love both characters, Hugh's ignorance as much Butcher's anger. Loved the thriller, mystery aspect, tempered always by beautiful observations and lyrical turns of phrase. Carey's got a great han ...more
Temuka Zoidze
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 უფრო ზუსტი შეფასება იქნებოდა, ალბათ.
წიგნის ნახევარი სრულიად არადამაინტრიგებლად იკითხება და არც განსაკუთრებული ემოციები მოაქვს. უბრალოდ სიუჟეტის ორი ნარატორიდან ერთ-ერთი - აუტისტი ჰიუ - იმდენად საყვარელია, რომ მისი ხათრითაც შეიძლება ქულების დაწერა. არც მეორე ნარატორის, ცნობილი და შემდეგ მივიწყებული მხატვრის ისტორიაა ურიგო, უბრალოდ ძალიან ნელა და მოსაწყენად ვითარდება.
კარგი იქნებოდა თუ პირველად პიტერ კერის სხვა უფრო ცნობილი რომანები ითარგმნებოდა ქართულად, თუნდაც ის ორი წიგნი, რომლებითაც ორჯერ გ
Svjetlana Tesla
Jun 08, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dosadnije knjige nisam citala ....
Dec 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: man-booker, australia
Australia baffles me. The place, the people, the cultures are so foreign to me, everything I read (or see in films) by Australians has an air of mystification about it which leaves me scratching my head – “What just happened heah, mate?”

Peter Carey’s noir-ish tale of thievery in the art world would appear to bridge the gap between this cultural mystification and more familiar territory from the rest of the world. But it’s very essence of “Aussieness” dominates and I am left as confused as usual.
James Murphy
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remember J. P. Donleavy? The Ginger Man? I remembered Donleavy about p200 of Theft. Peter Carey's prose isn't quite so verbally manic. But this novel is joyously written and full of energy. Those qualities reminded me of Donleavy. I thought it very well-written. Fun to read. Fun to return to every day. This novel did something few novels can do: it made me laugh out loud. Yet it's also serious. The plot of Theft is essentially an art theft caper. That in itself isn't exciting, though it's clever ...more
Jun 03, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Emilyfn by: my book club
If you want a vivid picture of the dark side of the international art world, very well written, read this; otherwise, go to the museum and meditate on some true art. Overall, I found this read gratuitously obscene; however, the author is a Booker Prize winner, and it was my book club selection, so I persisted and finished it. It is told from the alternating perspectives of two brothers, Michael, a famous painter, who has fallen from fame, divorced, (he refers to his former wife as the “Plaintiff ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What I liked: 1) TWO unreliable narrators relating their versions of this tragi-comic tale (an Australian artist five years "out of style," and his mentally challenged brother.) 2) The author's ironic take on the wacky world of artists, collectors, agents, appraisers. 3) The rather intriguing twists of the art theft.

What I didn't like: 1)Having to interpret the Australian vernacular and the obtuse ramblings of the mentally damaged narrator. I had to re-read often to get the gist. 2)What really p
Tanuj Solanki
I share John Updike's words for he has said exactly what I would have wanted to say but would have been too incapable of putting across so well:

"Theft is not a superb novel; there is something displaced at its heart. Its colorful means keep us at one remove from the central action, which, in retrospect, is perfidious and shocking."

A more personal review will be added later.
Jun 12, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Why this was shortlisted for the Booker prize I have no effing clue. Boring, tedious, unfunny and unbelievable, I forced myself on to the bitter end only because it was my book club pick. I will never regain those hours of my life - effectively flushed down the toilet - spent reading this waste of ink and paper. PFFFFTTT.
Ron Charles
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-about-art
Peter Carey has a problem with telling the truth. And in one magnificent novel after another, he struggles to solve it. His criminal narrators in Jack Maggs and True History of the Kelly Gang plead their cases even as condemnation crashes down upon them. In My Life as a Fake , an act of literary fraud takes human form like Frankenstein's monster and pursues its creator to the ends of the earth.

Given his devious trajectory, a novel about modern art seems like an inevitable destination for Carey.
Oct 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Boone, alias Butcher Bones, is a once celebrated Australian artist who’s just got out of jail for various crimes that resulted from his divorce and what he sees as the appropriation of his work as marital property. His reputation is in the toilet and he’s broke. His only benefactor, a collector named Jean-Paul, provides a rundown rural house in the far north of New South Wales and, there being no alternative, Michael and his retarded brother Hugh (for whom he’s legal guardian) light out ...more
Take a little bit of the movie Dominick & Eugene, plus a pinch of Of Mice and Men, throw in a dash of Les Miserables add a magnificent high-stakes art theft, murder and an international crime investigation and you get just a tip of the magnificent iceberg called THEFT: A LOVE STORY. This is the story of individual identity that explores the relationship between Michael "Butcher" Boone, a has-been Australian artist just released from the slammer and his mentally impaired two hundred twenty po ...more

Carey, Peter. THEFT. (2006). ***. Carey, a writer from Australia, is a two-time winner of the Booker Prize (“Oscar & Lucinda,” and “The True History of the Kelly Gang.”) – the only other writer to do so being J. M. Coetze. His books are usually eminently readable and are full of wit and humor. He manages to draw his characters so perfectly that we think we know someone just like them – but wouldn’t admit it. In this novel he tells the story of two brothers: Michael “Butcher” Boone, and his y
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“How do you know how much to pay if you don't know what it's worth?”

Don’t be deceived...this is not just a book about art and paintings and how they are created.

This is a love story. About different kinds of love. A man’s love of painting. His love for his brother who he can’t live without. And his love of a woman. Mix all this love together on one canvas and you get an amazing story. I really, really enjoyed this book. It absorbed me completely. Not just the story, not just that the story moves
Jan 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Told in alternating voices, Theft is, not surprisingly, a book about art theft. Butcher Boone is a flamboyant formerly "hot" artist who is in dire straits due to unpleasantness with his ex-wife and the law. He is also in charge of his volatile brother who has some type of disability or mental illness. When he meets the lovely Marlene he slowly becomes involved in an scheme that is equal parts forgery, scam and heist. The thriller portion of this book has a noir'ish feel but the most interesting ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, artists
Probably every writer has one overriding obsession, a theme he can’t help returning to in every novel. Carey’s is national identity. He’s always trying to work out what it is to be Australian. It’s as if he doesn’t quite believe Australians have a reliable identity and his characters are ceaselessly driven to either establish one or rage against its absence. Here Carey is at his cleverest wrestling with this theme. He uses art forgery to explore the theme of cultural and personal authenticity or ...more
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Theft is about art and art fakes, love and betrayal. The notions of both kinds of fraud are intertwined. Thank you, Peter Carey for an idiosyncratic writing style. Actually two first-person styles, one for a tormented love-stricken painter and the other for his mentally challenged brother.

What would you do if you were in love with a psychopath and realized you didn't care what sins that person might or might not have committed?

Fascinating also for the interwoven facts and culture of the real art
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: Theft / Peter Carey - 3*** 3 9 Feb 07, 2016 09:10AM  
What happened to Hugh? 1 15 Apr 30, 2012 06:56AM  
  • The Solid Mandala
  • Death of a River Guide
  • Kalooki Nights
  • Get a Life
  • Harland's Half Acre
  • The Ruby in Her Navel
  • So Many Ways to Begin
  • Seven Lies
  • Eucalyptus
  • The Jesus Man
  • Be Near Me
  • Dark Places
  • An Open Swimmer
  • Dark Palace
  • The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea
  • The Orchard
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...

Share This Book

“About her husband, i did actually enquire, but she held her private life so fucking tightly, like a tourist clutching a handbag on the A train,..” 2 likes
“All Butcher's previous politeness was revealed as so much bad milk floating in a cup of welcome tea...” 0 likes
More quotes…