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Oscar and Lucinda

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  19,732 ratings  ·  929 reviews
Peter Carey's Booker Prize winning novel imagines Australia's youth, before its dynamic passions became dangerous habits. It is also a startling and unusual love story.

Oscar is a young English clergyman who has broken with his past and developed a disturbing talent for gambling. A country girl of singular ambition, Lucinda moves to Sydney, driven by dreams of self-relianc
Paperback, 515 pages
Published January 29th 1998 by University of Queensland Press (first published 1988)
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MCBod It may be helpful to have a respectful answer, but some people won't necessarily respect the question which implies there is something dirty about sex…moreIt may be helpful to have a respectful answer, but some people won't necessarily respect the question which implies there is something dirty about sexuality or swearing.
Reacting to that implication is another form of "good answer"(less)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
”In order that I exist, two gamblers, one Obsessive, the other Compulsive, must meet. A door must open at a certain time.”

The narrator is the great-grandson of Oscar Hopkins, and in this passage there followed an explanation of the other criteria that were necessary for Oscar and Lucinda to have met, which ultimately led to the family line surviving through the generations resulting in his own birth. Although the narrator never named himself, once (but only once), someone in his story called
mark monday
technicolor and wide-screen in scale and spectacle, quirky and consistently surprising in characterization and incident. virtually a catalog of bizarre imagery, you-are-there historical detail, and way-off-center characters. so many beautiful sequences linger on in the mind, so many wonderful characters, such a surprising lightness of tone, such gorgeous prose... it all almost, but not quite, causes the reader to forget the bleakness at this novel's core. strange, compassionate and, finally, tra ...more
Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who like novels set in the 19th century and unhappy endings
For the past few years, I've thought about endings a lot. I've excused a lot of novels (esp contemporary ones) for bad or unsatisfying endings. Some novels end in a way that goes against all you've learned from the novel; others just... stop. Then there are the "conservative" endings of Victorian novels that many scholars complain "shut down" or tidy the "subversive" or threatening ideas raised in the novel. Lately I've found myself arguing against this complaint, because even if a novel ends co ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well, I can see why Peter Carey has been compared to a contemporary Charles Dickens. His characters and the world he creates have a similar eccentricity and inventiveness and energy. Oscar’s childhood is a sheer delight to read. He’s the son of an overbearing fire and brimstone preacher and marine biologist and there are some memorable images of the two of them on beaches searching for fossils in rock pools. When his wife dies, Oscar’s father takes all her clothes and throw them in the sea. As a ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“She thought: When we are two, they do not notice us. They think us a match. What wisdom does a mob have? It is a hydra, an organism, stupid or dangerous in much of its behavior, but could it have, in spite of this, a proper judgement about which of its component parts fit best together?”
― Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda


A book to love. A book to wade in, submerge into. A novel that tempts one to grab it around the middle and squeeze, even as it dances away like a shadow. It flickers like the qui
Nov 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. The story of 2 socially-unacceptables, both of whom are gambling addicts and come into constant conflict with religion in very different ways. Not a warming tale and only partly a love story with some plausibility issues. While I personally did not connect, I am glad to say I have read Peter Carey.

Honestly. I found his writing style somewhat annoying. The dialogue seems to drag on to the point of grating. And, imo, he overuses the phrase "he/she thought," including repeated instances
Michael Finocchiaro
This is a marvellous love story from Mann Booker prize winning author Peter Carey. It is both about modern Australia and the love of these beautifully drawn protagonists and one that I must absolutely reread.
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I definitely expected to like this book a lot more than I did, based on another Carey novel I remember loving years ago (True History of the Kelly Gang). The difference, for me, comes down to tone and characterization. While I liked the title characters in Oscar and Lucinda well enough, I wasn't terribly attached to either of them by the end. And something about the tone of this novel I disliked: there's a certain balance (or in my opinion, imbalance) between serious drama/tragedy and comedy/wit ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Modern Fiction); 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Shelves: 501, 1001-core
How many ways you can tell a love story? How many types of lovers are there in the world?

It tells about the two odd gamblers, Oscar Hopskins, a preacher's son and Lucinda, a heiress who buys a glass factory. The first one is obsessive and the other one is a compulsive gambler. They fell in love on their way to the 19th century Australia. Lucinda challenges Oscar that he cannot move the glass factory to another town and Oscar accepts the challenge and the end is I don't know. What I mean is if i
Nancy Oakes
no spoilers; just synopsis

a) don't see the movie unless you read the book...something gets really lost between the two

b)Excellent, simply excellent!!! I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates superlative writing and a quirky story. If every book were like this one, I would be in Heaven!!!! The prose is outstanding and these characters are simply so real I thought they'd float off the page.

Oscar and Lucinda is set both in England and in Australia in the 19th century. In England, Osca
Vit Babenco
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Life is a game of chance. Oscar and Lucinda is a perfect stylization to Charles Dickens and at that the novel remains postmodern. In the end evil is punished and somehow good is punished too.
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1988
When I started this book I knew I was in for something different. Two gamblers fall in love and conspire to transport a glass church across the outback in colonial times? And it's good? Yes, it is good.

Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda was a great trip for me. I loved being immersed in the details of the 1850s and 1860s. I especially loved being immersed in the details of the mind from this period. This is not a simple love story. The characters feel deeply about many things, and have many differ
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can understand why Peter Carey is not for everyone. His novels tend to move slowly with a focus on subtlety. I find his work to be, much like the sentences he composes, charming. In "Oscar and Lucinda" we find subdued humor and understated actions that possess significant implications. Some might find this quiet approach boring, but I have a soft spot for novels that don't like to reveal too much at a time.

In this particular novel, Carey does a masterful job of portraying the awkwardness of c
Aravind P
Oct 29, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
“Writing long books is a laborious and impoverishing act of foolishness: expanding in five hundred pages an idea that could be perfectly explained in a few minutes" Jorge Luis Borges

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
― Dr. Seuss

What a pity. There hasn't been a book that has annoyed me as much as this one. I can't take this prose style anymore. It talks about 2 "outcasts", I couldn't find a plausible reason other than their own assumpti
Lucy Banks
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved the characters and setting, a really intricate, fascinating book.

I seem to be on a bit of a roll with my Australian authors at the moment - and I must confess, Peter Carey (despite being mega famous) was new to me.

I had zero concept of what the book would be about - perhaps I was expecting some sort of love story, set in the Australian outback? However, surprisingly I got a red-headed gambler, a wealthy Australian heiress, a glass factory, and lots more besides.


Oscar lives in Devon (U
Feb 11, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great novel. Two eccentric characters are thrown together with all the flaws multiples sevenfold. Oscar brought up by his father a Plymouth Brethren living in a remote village in Devon He develops odd habits and beliefs. He then decides to become Anglican and later a clergyman Oxford who supports his studies by gambling. There is a transition via the Reverend Stratton who supports his change of belief.

On the other side of the world Lucinda becomes an heiress after her father and later her mot
Nov 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I picked this book up at a charity book shop a few weeks ago. It’s hard to say no to a Booker winner for £1, even if it is 30+ years old.

I found this a confusing book to read. About one-third of the way through I made a note that said “this seems to have suddenly become a different book”. It changed tone and became much darker, but it seemed to do it in the turn of a single page. And then it changed again toward the end and it goes to some very dark places in its final sections. This is all noti
Colleen Stone
It's such a while since I read this book but it's right up there among my all time favourites.

Oscar and Lucinda are such improbable characters ... Unfit for the world on so many levels but with robust conviction in their own world view. While they should both be cowering forlornly in some remote and dimly lit place, they embark on a mad mission with the sort of passion we all hope to experience at least once in our lives but probably never will.

The Prince Rupert's Drop that so impresses the yo
Stef Rozitis
So many conflicting feelings. The book is so exquisitely written and worked, the characters quite believable and Carey has a rare talent for writing believable and deeply explored female characters although male himself. The book is so tragic, unfolds into layers and layers of ever bleaker despair but with touches of humanity that make you long for joy.

Is it a true story? It could be true. The thin blue line between greatness and madness is walked for the whole 500 pages. The chapters are blesse
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I had heard of Parrot and Olivier in America, I wasn’t really familiar with Peter Carey before I ran across Warwick’s review of Illywhacker which you can find here. That review made me want to read some Carey, but I wanted to start with his most popular work which, according to GR ratings, is Oscar and Lucinda. It started out a bit slow, but gained momentum as I read on, so I’m glad I stayed with it. The writing is wonderful and the beautifully drawn, vivid and nuanced characters give ...more
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
3. What a wonderful novel. I'd forgotten all the story's intricate plot and about how Carey creates an Australian universe of characters with secret agendas and shames. It has gambling, religion, repression, and love. If you're looking for a good "book from every continent" book, this might be the one for you.

2. I want to reread more books this year. Less chasing of new things while still remaining current, but slowing down and experiencing books I said I loved to see if I still do.

1. I read thi
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brilliant. Gutwrenching. Carey's writes with such precision, with such narrative control. He seamlessly folds more and more people into the narrative, expanding the worlds in which O and L live. And Oscar and Lucinda, such beautifully rendered misfits. It wasn't easy to follow their lives, but it was riveting. ...more
Mar 13, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, audio
I am declaring myself FINIS! but only because I'm horribly bored and can't take it any more. ...more
Karen ⊰✿
May 19, 2017 marked it as gave_up_on  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Just couldn't finish this. I found it impossible to read and get engaged with. I guess the movie is the better option! ...more
Julie Tridle
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've considered giving this book a fifth star. The writing was pretty much perfect, the story unique and the characters interesting and memorable. I also know I've given five stars to books that weren't nearly as well-written. I suspect I'm being stingy with that final star because the book didn't keep me riveted. It's not really a book you read to find out what will happen next but to take in and savor what you are reading now, and I'm not sure it's fair to punish a book for that. Still, I will ...more
Jul 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: verynice
lucinda has a fond memory of glass and buys a glassworks factory with her inheritence.
oscar has fond memories of 'truth' and seeks a path divined by god.
they are both lonely, gamblers and meet on a boat.
I began watching the movie they made of this book, but didn't complete it. From what I remembered, it seemed to be a story about two gamblers, brought together by a fantastical wager - to transport a glass church across unmapped Australian bush. Or so I thought. And it is, except it is also mostly not.

The glass church is the unraveling of this meticulously crafted book. Up until then I enjoyed it. The characterization of Oscar and Lucinda is exceptional. I did not like either of them, not one l
Peter Carey writes so brilliantly as far as prose and language is concerned, and I liked Parrot and Olivier in America, but even though my friends like this one, I did NOT like this book. I did finish it as I needed to, but it was a push. I wanted to like it due to the prose, but I did not like either protagonist. I thought at first I was going to like Lucinda, but in the end, not enough to get me to enjoy this. Had I read this about 10 years before it was published (impossible, naturally) I pro ...more
Emilia Barnes
An impressive book, to say the least. Oscar and Lucinda isn't like any other historical novel I ever read. It's mind-boggling in its richness, and the level of detail Carey manages. I don't even mean historical detail (which is pitched really well to cast you right in the time and place) but the fictional detail (the complexity of people's lives, and I mean side characters here). Carey forgets about nobody. Sometimes it just became too much for me (hence 4 stars in the end). It is a witty, extra ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Missing page number 2 6 Jan 04, 2021 07:51PM  
Reading 1001: Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey 4 16 Sep 11, 2020 04:26PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add ACE reference 1 7 Jan 01, 2019 01:37PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add Alternate Cover for Same ISBN 6 31 Jan 31, 2018 06:08AM  

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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

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