“With whom else but Blacqueville might I have shared my amusement with America? Not the Americans who looked at me at every moment as if to ask, Are you not awestruck by the wonders you behold? Is this not a miracle? Do you not envy this, admire that? It was not until we approached the lower tip of Manhattan Island when my friends found matters of their own to attend to, that I could no longer be distracted from the painful fact that my pockets contained no single gold coin, nothing but a verbose letter of credit composed in English by the hand of my enemy.”
I was so looking forward to reading this one. I had read and loved Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, and Parrot & Olivier in America was on the shortlist for several awards. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.
Inspired by the life of Alexis de Tocqueville, Carey presents Olivier, the young nobleman who is forced to come to America as another revolution threatens France and the heads of the remaining aristocracy. Not trusted by his family, an Englishman, Parrot, is hired to spy and simultaneously keep Olivier from harm’s way. The stories of both Parrot and Olivier were interesting, right up until the two came together in America. From that point on, it was confusing and a bit on the dull side. Carey’s writing is quite good, but it really doesn’t make up for the lackluster tale here.
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2009