Guest Post by MJW
5 Stars out of 5
I received a copy of Amnesia through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is yet another tour de force
from Peter Carey.
This time the setting is 100% Australian and I would surmise some of the scene setting and back-story of a couple of the characters might well be drawn from his own experience of the early days of Monash University.
The story is multi-layered and moves between various time periods and POVs. There are fascinating and revealing elements drawn from Australia’s past such as the impact of American GIs in WW2 and the significance of and consequent convulsion that followed the 1975 political coup when the Governor General of Australia representing the Head of State (i.e. H M Elizabeth II) dismissed the elected Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam – possibly with CIA involvement.
The flavour of the various milieux and vast of characters are described in the novel are vividly realised and highly evocative and the central conceit brilliantly affecting – this novel is a truly significant contemporary piece.
Publisher: Faber & Faber (30 Oct 2014)
Guest post by MJW
In spite of the extensive peppering of PhDs amongst the collaborators thanked in Acknowledgements no one thought to proof read Mr Newton Frohlich’s material.
He does not know the difference between step and half sisters – Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I were Half sisters. He uses step sisters throughout. both to describe these two monarchs but then makes the same error describing other families’ members’ relationships later on.
He does not understand the use of the term ‘the Queen’ when Elizabeth I is speaking or being described versus the queen – a generic term. This is basic stuff.
He quotes Elizabeth’s motto as being Semper Diadem – it is in fact Semper Eadem. Just because she might wear a diadem doesn’t mean it works as a Latin motto for a monarch.
He does not understand how an Earl and his pedigree is described. The hero of this novel is the 17th Earl of Oxford. That delineates this family as having long aristocratic descent. This man has a son and heir known as the 18th Earl of Oxford. In this narrative he is known as Oxford Eighteen. This is so simply crass.
The novel which prides itself on being located within a specific historical setting is full of sloppy factual errors like these.
In addition the anachronistic dialogue is cringe provoking. He refers regularly to drinking ‘warm beer’ – I don’t think anyone had iced lagers in 16th century England.
One doesn’t have to have characters saying Forsooth or Prithee but no noblemen of that time would speak like people from NCIS or the like. We can’t do shit about this etc
A lawyer by training, the author has espoused the cause of those who cannot accept that a glove maker’s son from Stratford could have written the 37 plays attributed to him. His attempt to engage with this debate via a novelisation of the life of the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward De Vere makes poor comparison with the film Anonymous, written by John Orloff, directed by Roland Emmerich which covers EXACTLY the same material.
Having read this weak, embarrassingly awkward novel it makes one realise just how talented Hilary Mantel is.