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Publisher's Summary

With scars on his back and silver in his pocket, the huge figure of Jack Maggs strides across the rich landscape of 19th century London. As this enigmatic man moves through its streets and houses, his single-minded quest to find his son will engender love, deceit, and vengeance in the lives around him.

Risking execution if he is discovered, ex-convict Jack Maggs has returned to England from Australia. Pretending to be a servant, he is hired by a wealthy London household, where he quickly insinuates himself into his employer's affairs. Although Maggs conceals his ultimate goal, the murderous demons of his past threaten to tear away Maggs' ill-fitting disguise.

From polished drawing rooms to sooty rooftop garrets, Peter Carey's vivid novel takes you into a Dickensian world filled with intrigue and eccentricity. This exceptional work from a Booker Prize-winning author has captured awards and top places on best seller lists in Europe and America.

©1997 Peter Carey (P)1998 Recorded Books, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A rousing old-fashioned narrative...[that] stands on its own as an adventure story." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Uncommonly exciting and engaging. As much as anyone now writing, Peter Carey is a master of storytelling. His empathy with his characters, combined with his psychological sharp-sightedness, has them almost jumping off the page in full human complexity. An especial bonus is his style. Vivid, exact, unexpected images and language match the quick, witty intelligence flickering through this novel, and make it a triumph of ebullient indictment, humane insight, and creative generosity." (Sunday Times [London])

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Jack Maggs

I have been fascinated by this book. The story has surprised me many times by not taking the expected direction. It's complex and the vocabulary is thrilling. The story takes you to an interesting time period, Spring, 1837. The historical details are riveting. I want to read many more books by this author.

And, my emotions are engaged. I really care about Jack, and the others. It is tragic and moving; funny and hopeful; scary and homey. Quite an accomplishment.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

not exactly Dickens

I enjoyed this book and found the characters interesting and compelling. Since it was compared so much to Dickens novels and is definitely based in the same world and time period, I expected more friendship and hope even in a city of poverty and cons. Carey goes into places of the character's minds that Dickens would not have gone. this is not a bad thing at all; it is most probably more realistic. My only complaint was that I felt the character of Jack Maggs switched back and forth too often and too quickly between an enraged, threatening criminal and a good-hearted, wronged man.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • Gainesville, FL, USA
  • 12-15-05

Eyes Wide Open

This book is simply stunning from start to finish. Carey has taken the somewhat Dickensian notion of the foundling raised by criminals and elevated it to a level I never imagined could be done. I'm still wrestling with the characters in my mind and it has been a week since I finished the final chapter. This is the second book of this author I have downloaded. Peter Carey is brilliant!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Parallel Book to Dickens "Great Expectations"

I was noticing how Jack Maggs reminded me of the convict character in Dicken's Great Expectations, so I was gratified to learn from online searches after finishing that the author intended it to be read as a parallel book. Pretty cool - it adds a whole other level of depth.

The plot has a lot of unexpected twists and turns which kept me interested.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

decent historical context, but very slow pace

I listen to a lot of Audible books, and this one has a storyline which moves very slowly: if an editor had chopped away about 40% of this novel, the historical context and good characterization would make it a winner. But. . .

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jim
  • Boston, MA, United States
  • 07-30-09

A Great Pre-Victorian psychological thriller

Many have related this to Dickens but this is a 21st century look at the early days of Victorian England and the previous two decades of social policy on individual lives. A psychological thriller of the first rate, with a gay themed sub-text, infidelity, greed, abortion, social climbing and more. A great book read by a great narrator.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

O Kay

I give it a 3 1/2 ... The story line just didn't make it. And I couldn't decide whether to sympathize or dislike the Jack Maggs character.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not Dickens

Although the blurb for this book likens it to novels by Dickens, this book doesn't measure up to the master. Somehow the characters were not compelling. Audience were supposed to have cried in when Dickens gave public readings of the passage describing the death of Little Nell. I cannot imagine any such response for anything in this book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful