It is 1857, and Reverend Geoffrey Wilson has departed England to prove the literal truth of the Bible. The expedition heads towards Tasmania, where he is convinced he will find the real Garden of Eden. But the other passengers have their own agendas. Dr Potter is developing a sinister thesis, and the ship is crewed by smugglers of contraband brandy and tobacco. As the English passengers near Peevay's land, their bizarre notions become painfully at odds with reality. Their destination is no Eden but a world of hunting parties and colonial ethnic cleansing. A mighty collision is approaching ...
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"This vast novel of Victorian adventure, which won the 2000 Whitbread Award, is told by a rotation of first-person voices. The main characters include a piratical captain smuggling stolen goods and other contraband from hither to yon, the English passengers he has been forced to take in order to finance his voyage, and various inhabitants of present-day Tasmania, both European and indigenous. The English passengers think they are going to find the historical Garden of Eden in Van Deiman's Land; they aren't. The seven readers, who include Simon Prebble, Jenny Sterlin, Patrick Tull, and Davina Porter, could not possibly be better, but spiraling from the voice of one dislikable, benighted or comic opera character to the next, with no connecting narrative tissue, makes the experience less than compelling. B.G. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine"
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