Synopses & Reviews
English Passengers is a big book in every sense: an ambitious and successful epic novel that matches the high seas adventure of The Voyage of the Narwhal with the wit and masterful intelligence of An Instance of the Fingerpost and the historical depth of Robert Hughes's The Fatal Shore.
When Captain Illiam Quillian Kewley and his band of smugglers from the Isle of Man are intercepted by British Customs, they are forced to put their ship Sincerity up for charter. The only takers are two eccentric Englishmen, the Reverend Geoffrey Wilson and Dr. Thomas Potter, who want Kewley to take them to the Garden of Eden, which the Reverend believes is on the island of Tasmania. Fortunately for all concerned, British Customs has failed to confiscate all the smugglers' contraband, and so they're willing to embark for the other side of the globe via a circuitous route designed to evade authorities.
Meanwhile, in Tasmania, the British civilization of the aboriginal tribes is in full force. The clever and charming Peevay narrates the British colonials' genocidal assault on his tribe, which is being violently forced from its lands. In fact, every character of any significance has a voice in the narration of English Passengers, and so when Sincerity finally reaches Tasmania, the clash of cultures on all fronts gives rise to the outrageous confrontations, hysterical mayhem, and uniquely rendered personal truths of conquest and devastation.
The novel is truly a bravura performance by a writer of exceptional skill and talent, a novel that will set new standards for historical and nautical adventure writing.