MAGWITCH by Michael Noonan


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As Jane Gillespie did in Ladysmead (p. 1166), Noonan grafts onto a classic a delightful tale of his own, written flawlessly in the vein: ""Pip"" of Dickens' Great Expectations now confides how he spent his time when he was ""absent from England"" after the death of his ""benefactor,"" convict Abel Magwitch. (And though narrator Pip assures the reader that ""If you know nothing of my story. . . the narrative stands entirely in its own right,"" appreciation will be richer and riper for those greeting shadows of the G.E. regulars who pop up here and there, Dickens-fashion, lile calliope stops, in Australia.) Pip and his partner Pocket have been working in their shipping firm in Cairo for ten years--Pip having become a ""gentleman,"" of course, through the secret funding of rags-to-riches convict Magwitch, whom he had fed all those years ago. But now, with a list of Magwitch's properties and the only possessions left him (a Bible and a pack of Patience cards), Pip vacations to Australia, scene of Magwitch's labors. And word that Pip is in the area spreads magically through some surprising and unsavory circles. In the course of his innocent investigation Pip will meet: Lucy Brewster, a matron of tarnished repute and canny business sense (who turns out to have the long nose of Miss Haversham!); her lovely adopted daughter, half-caste Charlotte (whose pretty face and naughty flippancy suggest a strange resemblance to Estella, Magwitch's daughter and Pip's once-beloved); handsome Emma Rushmore, whose completely paralyzed and mute husband knows where Magwitch has hidden a treasure but can't tell; Mr. Jaggers again, who ""puts it to"" Pip that he's been in trouble with the law; and some likable convicts and low-lifes, plus a passel of villains who are out to murder Pip (and almost succeed three times). As for the treasure, Pip decodes clues from the cards and the Good Book. So finally the goods will be found in the damndest place--and Pip will marry. . . not whom you'd suppose. A witty simulation of Dickens' extravagant prose and originals, a fine springboard back to the Master's masterpiece; in all, in fact--a Pip.

Pub Date: Jan. 6th, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's