English Passengers - Matthew KnealeLondon: Hamish Hamilton, 2000, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Good+ Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper sunned at the spine and onto the margins of the panels, a decent copy otherwise.
From the cover: “Determined to prove the literal truth of the Bible against atheist geologists, the Reverend Geoffrey Wilson sets out from England, in the summer of 1857, with an expedition to find the Garden of Eden, which he is convinced lies on the island of Tasmania. Unknown to him, others in the party have very different agendas, notably the surgeon, Dr Potter, who is developing a revolutionary and sinister thesis of his own on the races of man. To complicate matters further, the ship Wilson has hurriedly chartered, crewed by Captain Kewley and his secretive Manxmen, is in fact an ill-starred smuggling vessel, its hidden compartments filled with contraband brandy and tobacco.
As the vessel journeys haplessly southwards, in Tasmania itself an Aboriginal named Peevay recounts his people’s struggle against the invading British, who prove as lethal in their good intentions as in their cruelty. This is no Eden but a world of hunting parties and colonial ethnic cleansing. As the English passengers near Peevay’s land, their bizarre notions ever more painfully at odds with reality, it grows clear that a mighty collision is approaching.
English Passengers is narrated by over twenty different characters, each so distinct that the effect is of a story not so much told as peopled. In a storm of hugely entertaining voices it brings a past age to vivid and memorable life. “