Magwitch – Michael Noonan

Magwitch – Michael NoonanMagwitch by Michael Noonan
Published by Hodder & Stoughton Publishers on 1982

I’ve had this on my shelf just about since the year dot, or at least, it feels like it. I believe I picked it up with the intention to read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and then to follow it with this book. All good intentions, but it’s been so long I completely forgot until a few weeks ago when I included Magwitch one Wednesday on Randomly Shelving or Something. As is my wont with this series I was googling my books and came up with another book with a very similar name and an exceedingly similar description. I was startled, immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion and brought Magwitch to the top of my reading pile. Now I’ve finished it and read the first few pages of the other book I find they’re both sequels to Great Expectations but with different parameters. This book deals with Pip coming to Australia to look at what he would have inherited while the other book deals with Magwitch in Australia. Anyway, one day I’ll read the other book and get back to you on it.

In the meantime…

This is actually a really timely read for me at the moment. I’m studying Australian literature and it was interesting to read. It gives a snapshot of what Australia must have been like at the time it was set. Rough, raw, with people ready to either settle down and make the best of things or escape.

It shows how it’s possible to make your way in a new Australia by being ruthless and by taking every possible opportunity to make money whether it’s good or bad. It doesn’t show how it’s possible to make your fortune here by being nice. The people in this book really seem to be either good or bad. If the bad characters are doing something good then there has to be some reason for their behaviour. Pip seems to be the only really good character, but then we only ever see things from his point of view…very one-sided.

We do actually see one Indigenous man in this book. Unfortunately, he’s fairly silent and hanging out with some bushrangers. Probably typical of the day but I would have liked to have seen more.

Do I recommend it?

Yes, if you can get hold of a copy. There are very few in the wild. I have a suspicion that many of them might have been pulped. My copy looks to have been remaindered many years ago judging by the snipping of the inside of the dust jacket where the price would have been. And also judging by the price on the front cover. Hardcover books in 1982 cost a fair bit more than $3, and you can see I only paid $1 for it.