Parrot and Olivier in America is short-listed for the Booker Prize in Literature this year, and I would be shocked if it doesn’t win. That would give Peter Carey his third Booker Prize, which has never been done before, but he deserves it. This book is fantastic!
As in his previous book Oscar and Lucinda, which I reviewed last week, Parrot and Olivier in America is amazingly well-written and full of incredible details and descriptions that will plunge you into life in France and America in the early 1800s. Carey deftly captures different social classes, the differences in French and American revolutionary spirit (as well as some unsettling similarities), and also tucks in a great deal of fascinating information on printing, etching, and painting, among other things.
The book was inspired by the feel of Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic, Democracy in America (and if you have not read it, you should!) and tracks a French aristocrat and his servant from when they were boys in drastically different circumstances, until they were thrown together and sent off to America (not the first choice of either one), and their master/servant relationship changes.
In short, Parrot and Olivier in America is a phenomenal story, the writing is beyond excellent, the characters are intriguing, the themes are thoughtful and worthwhile, and at times it is quite funny. I’m pretty sure I will list this novel among my top reads for 2010 and I highly recommend it to you.
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