Oscar and Lucinda

“Oscar and Lucinda” by Peter Carey (Australia)

Synopsis and Review

“Oscar and Lucinda”: a gamble to read!

Winner of the Booker Prize in 1988, “Oscar and Lucinda” is the story of Oscar Hopkins, an English seminarian with a passion for gambling, and Lucinda Leplastrier, an Australian heiress with a fascination for glass. They meet on the ship to Sydney in 1865 and their lives are changed forever.

Members of the Book Club found the novel a challenge to read. Most of them said they probably would not have finished it if they hadn’t had to read it for the Book Club! They found the first part of the book difficult to get through because of its detailed passages, long sentences and the large number of secondary characters that make their appearance. They felt that the story became engaging when Oscar and Lucinda finally meet (two-fifths of the way through!). The story then took off and kept them reading. Everyone liked the characters of Oscar and Lucinda, who were unconventional in different ways. They felt that the author had developed them well and succeeded in making them memorable. Members agreed that the story would benefit from a second reading and that studying it within the context of a Book Club was ideal to help in its understanding. The book averaged 8 out of 10.

The theme this season is “From Book To Film”. The film adaptation, made in 1997, was directed by Gillian Armstrong and starred Cate Blanchett as Lucinda and Ralph Fiennes as Oscar. Everyone enjoyed the film and thought the actors were well cast. Many said the film felt like slices of the book, the sunny slices, lacking the more dark and powerful side of the story. Most agreed that to fully appreciate the film you would need to have read the book. The film’s ending is different from the one in the book and there was some discussion as to the preferred one. It ended up being a 50:50 split between the two!

Nicola’s Book Club reading list

Season 4 – “From Book To Film” (Sep 2006 – Jan 2007) 

“Tsotsi” by Athol Fugard (South Africa) *
“Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel (Mexico)
“Oscar and Lucinda” by Peter Carey (Australia)
“The Lover” by Marguerite Duras (France)
“City of God” by Paulo Lins (Brazil)

* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur

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