One of my focus areas this year is to read more and write more – what better way to do that then reading a book and writing a review about it.
It’s not as simple and easy as it sounds because when there is a pile of interesting books to read, all I wanna do is just read. I am always eager to finish reading the current one and then quickly moving on to reading the next book. So it is a huge effort to take time out and just sit there, writing a review. Anyways here goes my first book review.
A week ago I finished reading “Wanting” by Richard Flanagan. Yes a week ago, that long, but this review took me a Saturday night and half of a Sunday to complete.
Now I am very fond of choosing books with interesting titles. I have always been drawn to books that sound sophisticated, books that strikes a chord deep within me, bringing forth or connecting with significant truths about myself – that has been siletly swirling at the back of my mind – the subconcious control centre I call it. That’s exactly how I ended up grabbing the book Wanting and devoting myself to completing the book.
I’ll start by stating the very few things I found difficult when reading this book. In the begining the details of the sufferings of the Abrogines (Indigenous Australians) was a bit too graphic for me. The part where they are taken out of their home in the natural wilderness and forced to live in a ‘civilised’ community with proper houses and amenities. They were forced to give up there normal way of life and practices which was considered by the Christian Missionaries in those days as barbarism, savagery and demonic. The very work of the Missionaries in those days was to bring light into the darkness that engulfed the lives of Indigenous Australians – and other Indigenous communities around the world. For these indigenous Australians characters in the book, being forcefully weened off their old life literally took the life out of them.
Also the writing was a bit difficult for me – it was elegantly writen but in terms of ease in understanding, I had to try harder. Richard Flanagan in this book writes with a classic style – Dickensian type of writing. I had to be very patient and I took my time trying to properly understand the writings. That’s what we do when reading Victorian aged novels. We have to take our time in understanding the deeper meaning behind the dense and foggy sentences. They are super cool to read that way.
For me this story was particularly interesting while reading it as I am an indigineous Fijian myself and my ancestors were also living a similar primitive lifestyle like the Indigenous Australians around the same time this novel is set in and they were also classified as savages.
This book made me realise that around the times of Charles Dickens where a higly inteligent civilized society was already in existence for the advanced portion of the world – my ancestors were still going about their normality; deeply entrenched in worship of gods, tribal wars and canibalism.
There were no presence of books, theatre or democracy & life revolved around nature and the spiritual realms. We had no Charles Dickens, Jane Austen or thought leaders who made us think important and progressive thoughts.
This book helped me be more understanding of the current status of my indigenous society. I am less harsher on our lack of advancements because we are a very young civilized society and it’s my hope that we push more towards an inteligent society.
The book properly introduced me to Charles Dickens. I never knew Charles Dickens until this year. First I discovered a good review by Nigella Lawson on his book David Copperfield and she says that it’s a book that ‘..shows us how it is to be trully human.’ And then later on upon visiting a friend of mine I came upon his book The Curiousity Shop on her shelf. She gladly lends it to me because she had no idea who he was and how significant his novels were.
I felt like these Charles Dickens events were connected – one event led to the other – and I could go on and on about it further but then all of this culminated in me picking up this book and learning more about the legendary literary figure.
The book ‘Wanting’ provided a narrative on the life of Charles Dickens based on the true facts and events of his life. He was a famous man in England and whos writing moved society. Charles Dickens was one of the main characters in the book. The book revolved around a significant yet a difficult point in Charles Dickens life.
I enjoyed learning about his work ethic, how he writes, his creative process, his strugles and the other aspects of his genius life. He had internal domestic problems, an unsettled family life, his wife and his children wasnt satisfied with his presence at home and his work. As he got driven away from his home, he became driven towards creating some of his greatest works. He was a multifaceted and very ambitious individual and I draw so much inspirations from the many things he achieved. However this book shows that just like us, Mr Dickens had to battle with his internal demons that came in the form of desires, emptiness and longings of his heart.
There were other characters apart from Mr Dickens and the story was set mainly – back and forth – between England and Tasmania, Australia. Honestly I love those 2 places so much and its one of the reasons I enjoyed reading the book because I have always been endeared to them prior to reading the book.
The basis of this book is how people submerge their true desires and feelings deep within them because of the expectations of society that dictates what’s appropriate and inappropriate.
It shows us how desire is a monster that haunts us and we as mere human beings try our very best to ignore it and we hide it deep within us. However it is relentless and works hard in getting us to be free and fulfill atleast a small portion of it.
But the mark of wisdom and civilization was the capacity to conquer desire, to want it and crush it.
All the charaters had internal demons and they fought against who they trully were and what they trully felt in order to project the civilized and acceptable self they ought to be in society.
Passion is supposed to be kept firmly under control.
Anything less than control and they were ridiculed and shunned by society as an outcast. This is still true and relateable today.
..wasn’t that control precisely what marked the English out as different from savages.
I saw through this book that it’s easy to control ourselves when we are at safe distance from our weakness. When we are closer to it and in constant interaction with it; it becomes difficult to create a fort against “letting go.” Our desires and longings becomes awakened and dominating in our life.
This book also shines a light on the strugles of indigenous communities as their way of life is altered and they are made to conform to the light of a civilized society. There is this sense of loss that indigenous people carry with them and also they don’t properly fit into society.
I believe that the negative lifestyle problems that are in inexistance now, plaguing Indigenous communities, is rooted from the loss of culture. Common problems like Alcaholism, Drug Abuse, Poverty and even the high rates of Non Communicable Diseases. History is important because it provides an explanation on why things are the way they are now.
Every person is born an independent being however ultimately we become governed by the history of the society we are born to. It takes courage to fight against conformance to history and the fate that it imposes for us.
Is it okay to freely act on our impulses and natural desires of the heart? This book doesn’t suggest a definite answer. I would say that it depends on our unique circumstances. Sometimes it’s okay; like you deserve this and that but then other times it’s wise to numb that throbbing sensation of Desire within us, to be oblivious to it and just continue to move forward – away from it.
Overall it was a great read as it evoked all the feels and thoughts for me. I am interested to hear what you think about desires and firery passion ? When should it be entertained and when shouldn’t it be?
P.S. I sincerely thank you for bearing with me and reading through my 1st book review.