James (JD) Dittes's Reviews > Parrot and Olivier in America

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
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's review
Jul 30, 2011

I liked the idea of the book rather than the reading of it. Alexis de Tocqueville captured America at its most promising moment, and his "Democracy in America" enshrined this country as a great hope of nations.

Carey's Count Olivier Something Something de Garmont is cast upon American shores, haunted by the French Revolution and uncertain of the future of aristocracy anywhere, Parrott is a servant, a spy, a secretary. It is through their eyes that America must come to life.

Love intervenes, and it is in relationships that we get to the true themes of the book. Parrot's love, Mathilde, is a painter who learns to cheat the American real estate and insurance markets (a nice nod to today's problems) while remaining true to her calling as an artist.

Olivier also finds love, and in his love he runs into the contradiction at the center of American society: a love of freedom mingled with a deep lust for the elite status also known as aristocracy.

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