Review: Wanting

Wanting by Richard Flanagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charles Dickens in London was struggling with his inner self. His wife and children do not appear to satisfy him any longer. Everything at home irritated him and he longed… oh, he longed for something…

’The way we are denied love,’ he [Dickens] continued, and she, along with the audience, could hear how hard it was for him to say these words. ‘And the way we suddenly discover it being offered to us, in all its pain and infinite heartbreak. The way we say no to love.’

Whilst in Van Diemen’s Land (ie Tasmania), Mathinna struggled against society and what they have made of her. Of Aboriginal decent and temporarily adopted into the Governor’s family, she could not but see the ‘blackfellas’ as savages and yet, is herself not accepted in society to be more than that.

Wanting is a provoking novel where two characters, completely different and yet weirdly connected, struggled with their deep longings. The “wanting” of what you could not, or maybe, should not have. What would one do to satisfy such deep seated wanting? And to what end?

The stories of Mathinna and Dickens, with their odd but undeniable connection, suggested to me a meditation on desire – the cost of its denial, the centrality and force of its power in human affairs. That, and not history, is the true subject of “Wanting”. – Richard Flanagan

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