The English passengers by Matthew Kneale

About the book

In 1857 when Captain Illiam Quillian Kewley and his band of rum smugglers from the Isle of Man have most of their contraband confiscated by British Customs, they are forced to put their ship up for charter. The only takers are two eccentric Englishmen who want to embark for the other side of the globe. The Reverend Geoffrey Wilson believes the Garden of Eden was on the island of Tasmania. His traveling partner, Dr. Thomas Potter, unbeknownst to Wilson, is developing a sinister thesis about the races of men.
Meanwhile, an aboriginal in Tasmania named Peevay recounts his people’s struggles against the invading British, a story that begins in 1824, moves into the present with approach of the English passengers in 1857, and extends into the future in 1870. These characters and many others come together in a storm of voices that vividly bring a past age to life.

Reviewed by Bridewell Beauties

Universally disliked, apart from me. No-one (apart from me!) finished the book – a few didn’t start.
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3 thoughts on “The English passengers by Matthew Kneale”

  1. Reviewed by Weston Reading Group
    This did not capture anyone’s imagination so some did not finish. May be a man’s book – only one I’ve met who enjoyed it was a man!


  2. Reviewed by Bishopstoke Reading Group
    Mixed. Two members gave it 10 out of 10. Some of the rest didn’t read more than 100 pages and didn’t relate to the characters. About a third of the members finished it but would probably only give it 2 stars. Very interesting from an historical point of view. Favourite characters were Peevay and the captain. Some people thought the different voices clever, other irritating.


  3. Review by Maisemore Book Club
    Some couldn’t pick it up and soem couldn’t put it down…interesting story but horrifying detail.
    We liked the way the story was told from different characters’ viewpoints.
    *** 3 stars


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