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When past indiscretions catch up with Charles Redbourne he is shipped off to Australia where he plans to make his mark as a naturalist His life begins to change when he meets his host's wayward artistic daughter but it is on an expedition in the Blue Mountains where events take a terrifying turn

10 thoughts on “Rifling Paradise

  1. says:

    i of 5 books for 3 19042013 review by By James Ley The Age Jem Poster's Rifling Paradise is a historical novel set in the late 19th century that begins with its narrator a minor English aristocrat named Charles Redbourne facing an angry mob of local villagers We soon learn that Redbourne has been involved in a series of indiscretions with several boys The mob has arrived at his doorstep after one of the boys has hanged himselfIt is a promisingly edgy opening The confrontation is tense and dramatic as Redbourne attempts to bluster his way out of trouble adopting an air of upper class bravado while struggling to control his fear The remainder of the novel never really lives up to the potential of its opening sceneRedbourne's response to being threatened is to flee With the financial backing of a rich uncle he sails to New South Wales to rekindle his ambition of becoming a famous naturalist Upon arrival he moves in with a wealthy landowner named Vane and his daughter Eleanor an emotionally troubled artist He also encounters the brutish Bullen who accompanies him on hunting trips in search of new specimens and Billy a sensitive half aboriginal boy who is enlisted as a guide for an ill fated expedition into the Blue MountainsRifling Paradise wants very much to be taken seriously most obviously with regard to its environmental theme The characters are caught up in a debate about our relationship with the natural world Eleanor in particular throws into relief the 19th century's faith in science and progress Through her Redbourne comes to reflect upon the compatibility of a scientific approach with appreciation of the world's natural beauty and to consider the role art plays in shaping our perceptions

  2. says:

    This novel tried to cover a lot of ground relationships sexuality class home and away man and the natural world native people vs newcomers tradition vs science Any of which would have been great if done in a bit depth But perhaps attempting to cover them all within a few hundred pages and inevitable some suffered by being skimmed All in all I enjoyed this book but I felt as if the slow pace of the first half where I felt we were truly getting to know the personalities and motivations of the characters then spun out of control in the jungle gothic drama of the second half which was well written and tense in itself The ending also came rather suddenly and seemed a little unlikely and unexplored considering what had gone before Clearly flawed but still a decent read

  3. says:

    The beginning of this story is quite dark as our central character reveals attributes that might make for a sordid sort of tale but the writing was crystal clear and the quality of the prose led me to keep reading I'm very glad I didThe novel is really well paced somehow suggesting very complex plot development but delivering a trim and precise tale that ends quickly than seemed possible It is scattered with moments of real tension as the author uses the story to contrast several different character types all responding to the cultural paradigms of the time some characters stuck within them and some managing to grow through them A very satisfying read

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  5. says:

    Although the novel offers plenty of intriguing elements they are not worked out at all There are definite implications of incest between father Edward Vane and daughter Eleanor Nellie but when the protagonist Charles Redbourne marries the daughter he ignores any potential hints in this direction While the protagonist does develop from appreciating animals from a scientific point of view killing dissection stuffingtaxidermy to appreciating them in life he shies away from voicing any of these changes in his principles The implications of homosexuality that make the protagonist leaveflee from his estate in England to Australia are not taken any further The romance plot ending in marriage is destabilised by the protagonist’s wondering whether he didn’t decide on a wife too quickly and should have perhaps looked around a bit first The figure of the half aboriginal boy working as a guide is of an idealised type than an actual character and so is his father The death by disease through drinking unclean water is presented as a proper punishment for the appropriately named Bullen who bullies both Redbourne and the boy and Redbourne’s illness can be seen as a kind of purgatory penance phase before he can happily continue his life

  6. says:

    I truly enjoyed this book It took me quite a while to finish it for one reason or another but none of the reasons was boredom It covered a lot of topics not very thoroughly I agree but it was just enough to make it a complete work of art I loved the flow the ending too I liked the characters too I am really glad it ended the way it did I really hoped it would when I was about half way through It was a nice little adventure something I haven't really read before Maybe a bit like a mix of some other novels and ideas I've seen before All in all I don't think it's really for everyone but it was for me 355

  7. says:

    For a story that takes place almost entirely in the wilds of 19th century Australia Rifling Paradise feels strangely claustrophobic  Charles Redbourne his reputation in question flees England to pursue his ambition as amateur naturalist in the land down under  We see his confusion as a lover of nature who proceeds to kill the fauna of the country so he can add specimens to his collection  His experiences observing fellow whites who carelessly abuse and destroy nature and treat native peoples horribly lead him to a different outlook and an unexpected wife

  8. says:

    The victorian gentleman a landowner who has squandered his inheritance and his reputation is sent by his rich uncle to visit a man in Australia A lot happens during the visit while the plodding hero goes about collecting specimens dead animals for the family cabinet of curiosities I enjoyed this book a lot except for the animal murders; it was fine to be in Australia again I give it a 35 star rating

  9. says:

    Rifling Paradise was very ambitious but the book failed to establish what it really wanted to achieve While I enjoyed the variety of themes laid out in every page I still felt unsatisfied with how they were never fully recognized and covered I liked the overtones or lust and sexuality but the way it was told was lazy RP was a slow read and fine for a lazy afternoon

  10. says:

    A novel about colonization and one about the despoiling of nature Set in early to mid 19th Century Australia Another one of those I'd have to consider if I ever managed to direct a May Term trip to the east coast of Australia