Richard Flanagan

RRP: £8.99

1 March 2010

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781848870772


1841. In the remote penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land, a barefoot aboriginal girl wearing a red silk dress sits for her portrait. She is Mathinna, the adopted daughter of the island’s governor, Sir John Franklin, and his wife, Lady Jane, and the subject of a grand experiment in civilization – one that will determine whether science, Christianity and reason can be imposed in place of savagery, impulse and desire.

A quarter of a century passes. Somewhere in the Arctic, Sir John Franklin has disappeared, along with his crew and two ships, on an expedition to find the fabled Northwest Passage. England is horrified as reports of cannibalism filter back from search parties, no one more so than the most celebrated novelist of the day, Charles Dickens, for whom Franklin’s story becomes a means to plumb the frozen depths of his soul.

As several lives become conjoined by unexpected events and tragedies, Wanting transforms into a remarkable meditation on the ways in which desire – and its denial – shape our lives.


One of the best novels of this year... Flanagan's cast of virtuoso characters... are vivid, memorable beings, burnt into the retina of the imagination long after the novel comes to an end... An irresistibly good story.
Rachel Holmes, The Times

In confident, expert hands, fiction can liberate the past... Richard Flanagan is an exemplary case in point. Through his fiction, flat, conformist portraits of individuals become rich and three-dimensional, new witnesses provide fresh testimony about the past, and Tasmania's silences resound with voices.
William Boyd, New York Times Book Review

The best novel I have read this year or expect to read for several more
Sydney Morning Herald

Exquisite, profoundly moving, intricately structured
Los Angeles Times

Brilliant... A captivating tale of cruelty and disappointment... Dazzling
Ron Charles, Washington Post