Friday, February 25, 2011

Parrot and Oliver in America

by Peter Carey

I chose this book because I had read many great reviews, but maybe I just don't know enough information about Tocqueville and his Democracy in America, which is the basis for this book, to have gotten as much from it as others. The book is very well written, contains many detailed descriptions and a few statements on the main character's reflections of life in America. I was a bit disappointed that not more emphasis was placed on these impressions, but instead focused on the relationship between Parrot and Oliver. 

These two characters narrated the book in alternating chapters, however I often found it confusing to recall whose "voice" was speaking due to the similar nature of their person. Oliver is a descendant of French nobility while Parrot accompanies him to the US as his servant, so some disparity of language should be evident, but it is not,  I am sure this was an intentional attempt by the author to display the equality of people regardless of their social status, but I frequently had to check who was "talking" for reference and clarity.

In general, the book is well written, but I think it is a bit more fictional history than historical fiction. Don't expect to come away with a greater understanding of Tocqueville's impressions of America.

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