A Long Way from Home by Peter Carey

A Long Way from Home

Peter Carey

Set in the 1950s, this is a world every American will recognize: black, white, who we are, how we got here, and what we did to each other along the way. A Long Way from Home is Peter Carey's late-style masterpiece.

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The two-time Booker Prize-winning author now gives us a wildly exuberant, wily new novel that circumnavigates 1954 Australia, revealing as much about the country/continent as it does about three audacious individuals who take part in the infamous 10,000-mile race, the Redex Trial.

Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in southeastern Australia. Together they enter the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the ancient continent, over roads no car will ever quite survive. With them is their lanky, fair-haired navigator, Willie Bachhuber, a quiz show champion and failed schoolteacher who calls the turns and creeks crossings on a map that will remove them, without warning, from the white Australia they all know so well. This is a thrilling high-speed story that starts in one way, and then takes you someplace else. It is often funny, more so as the world gets stranger, and always a page-turner even as you learn a history these characters never knew themselves.
     Set in the 1950s, this is a world every American will recognize: black, white, who we are, how we got here, and what we did to each other along the way.

A Long Way from Home is Peter Carey's late-style masterpiece.

Advance Galley Reviews

Road trip! around the perimeter of Australia. It's 1954 and the Redux Road Trial is about to begin. It is quintessential Australian fille with vivid characters, wildlife, and a landscape that comes to life. It's a journey of discovery: of the hardships of the outback and of Australia's history of racial suppression. It's also a journey of self-discovery. This road trip will test relationships and create new ones never imagined before setting out in the specially outfitted GM Holden automobile. This was my first novel by Peter Carey who, if I can judge his other books by this one, clearly deserves the many awards he has received thus far, including the prestigious Man Booker Prize. While the pigeon English of the Aboriginals was sometimes hard to follow, and sentences and paragraphs sometimes seemed disconnected, it all contributed to the atmosphere of a rugged country still trying to come to terms with its past and future.

Peter Carey is a writer who's given me great pleasure: Jack Maggs, The True History of the Kelly Gang, The Chemistry of Tears, all are personal favorites. So it is with regret that I must report Far From Home was not for me. I could not sympathize with the main characters, who seemed unlikable and unrealistic to me. The situations and personalities at the beginning seem not only removed from my own experience, but removed from reality. Perhaps most importantly, the humor failed for me; I didn't crack a smile once. Perhaps the book is "too Australian" somehow? By the time the auto race arrived (one third of the way through the novel), I wasn't interested enough in the book to be interested in the race. The larger points about Australian history, and the shameful episodes in the nation's and the characters' pasts, are there, and I sympathize with them, but I couldn't enjoy the story.

I really enjoyed this book and I'm glad I got the chance to read an early copy. Thanks First to Read books. What an interesting and complex cast of characters! Willie, the next door neighbor hiding from police after hanging one of his students out the window, son of a German minister. He becomes navigator for the Bobs in the Redex race and in the end discovers where he really comes from. I started out liking Titch Bobs, a man that will do anything for his family, giving up on his dream of a Ford dealership and driving around the continent to try and win a name for himself. By the end of the book I couldn't stand him, gambling his wife's money, taking credit for winning the race, flirting with other women. Irene was such a strong character. She deserves the credit for winning the race and coming up with the money to buy their dealership, among other things. And in the background of the story, there's always the divide between the aboriginals and the whites.

The Text for this book was too small for me to read and enjoy. It was a struggle so much so that I stopped reading ".A Long Way From Home"


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