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Martha Peake (2000)

por Patrick McGrath

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324563,434 (3.49)12
The late 18th century. When the Byronic Harry Peake is disfigured in a tragic accident, he and his daughter, Martha, are forced to move from the wild coasts of Cornwall to the dank strects of London. Here they live in a rough hewn harmony until Harry's tortured soul grows dangerously unruly, forcing Martha to flee - first to the asylum of an English nobleman, then to the rebellion soaked shores of America. Finally it appears Martha might find real contentment, but can she change the course of her own tragic destiny? Martha Peake is an utterly gripping, beautifully written and haunting masterwork.… (mais)
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Mostrando 5 de 5
An interesting story of a young woman her father and their troubled relationship. The story moves from the family tragedy of a Cornish smuggler who reinvents himself as a story-teller raising his daughter in London. Life is not easy though and the relationship between Father and Daughter goes bad. The daughter escapes to America in time for the start of the American Revolution. She enjoys some happy times in the New World but it is not all good. An Interesting but not a compelling read. ( )
  thejohnsmith | Feb 25, 2018 |
Di questo autore, ho adorato Follia. Così quando ho letto nella quarta di copertina "Forse il miglior romanzo di McGrath" l'ho comprato. Ma non è affatto il suo miglior romanzo, in realtà è un bruttissimo romanzo, privo di ispirazione, inutile, inverosimile. In alcuni passaggi francamente ridicolo. Anche fastidioso, se vogliamo.
Siccome anche Port Mungo mi era parso una sciocchezzuola molto forzata, comincio a pensare che prima e dopo Follia... il diluvio.
  Lilliblu | Aug 4, 2012 |
Martha Peake is a bit of a departure for McGrath. While it does have gothic elements and deals with mental aberration, that is not the focus. The focus is the story of Martha and Harry Peake, English father and daughter on the cusp of the American Revolution. The story itself is interesting, but I found the framework clumsy and obvious, something I’ve never encountered in a McGrath novel.

Spoilers ahoy-

Harry is a brash Cornish smuggler and is horrifically injured in a fire that kills his wife and most of his children. His broken back is set badly and he is disfigured for life and unable to work. In his depression and underlying need to punish himself for the tragedy he displays himself as a poetry reading freak to the locals. This catches the attention of a renowned anatomist Lord Drogo. They meet and the anatomist has evil designs on Harry’s twisted skeleton. With the help of his slimy assistant Clyte, Drogo ensnares Harry’s imagination and plots his downfall. He will do anything to acquire Harry as specimen.

At least that’s what we’re led to believe by our unreliable narrator, Ambrose Hill, the nephew of the former apprentice to said famous anatomist. At first we believe that the tale is largely true, but hearsay times two makes for a muddy tale. By the end, the line between what the nephew wishes to be true in his romantic heart and what might actually be true is completely shattered.

The basic facts hold however; Harry succumbs to drink and his binges bring out the worst in him. He literally goes out of his mind and attacks Martha, despite his intense love and devotion to her. She runs to the only place she can think of, Drogo Hall, and throws herself on the mercy of the apprentice, William Hill. Hill hides her in the house and turns Harry away when he comes looking. As a permanent solution, Hill arranges for Martha to sail to America to live with her aunt Maddy. Before she can flee, she goes to her father in the grounds, moved by his vigil outside Drogo Hall. He is drunk as usual and this time his attack is completed and Martha knows she is pregnant.

Once in America, she falls into the manipulative hands of her aunt’s husband Silas who immediately begins a plot to set her up. He totally plays her and once she’s married to his son, Adam, begins to put her in the line of fire, literally. It’s clever and totally heartless what he does to her. A martyr to the cause of the American Revolution. What a perfect symbol to keep morale high.

By now our nephew is completely in love with Martha Peake. He draws her story out of his elderly uncle and fills in the blanks himself. He’s so under the spell that Drogo still haunts his pile of a mansion and hears footsteps outside his locked door and keeps his pistol ready. Of course it isn’t Drogo who haunts the mansion, but Peake. Harry Peake. When he finally realizes the fact of this, his breakdown is nearly complete.

Overall this is a very good story; a tragedy through and through despite its flaws. ( )
  Bookmarque | Aug 20, 2008 |
Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution by Patrick McGrath was a big disappointment. I brought the book with me on a short trip because I had thoroughly enjoyed Asylum by the same author. That was a riviting, neogothic, psychological horror-thriller. This book is a strange mix of neogothic and historical fiction—something McGrath has never done before. Unfortunately, the author does not succeed in making these two genres work together. If I analyze the book in segments, they appear to succeed, but as a whole, the book did not hold my interest. Mostly, I was put off by the awkward way the author chose to tell the story. I could not get into either main character—the narrator or the historical character of Martha Peake. I was always aware of the narrator imagining and creating the history. I couldn’t focus on Martha’s story without thinking how the narrator could be getting her whole story absolutely wrong. Evidently, this was just what the author needed us to do; he wants us to question the story. In the end, there are some unexpected twists. But the telling was all too awkward and unconvincing. I got bored long before I finished, and I had to force myself to finish.

I do not recommend this book. But I like the author well enough to give him another try if he sticks to neogothic horror in a contemporary setting ( )
  msbaba | May 25, 2007 |
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In the beginning, all the world was America.

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The late 18th century. When the Byronic Harry Peake is disfigured in a tragic accident, he and his daughter, Martha, are forced to move from the wild coasts of Cornwall to the dank strects of London. Here they live in a rough hewn harmony until Harry's tortured soul grows dangerously unruly, forcing Martha to flee - first to the asylum of an English nobleman, then to the rebellion soaked shores of America. Finally it appears Martha might find real contentment, but can she change the course of her own tragic destiny? Martha Peake is an utterly gripping, beautifully written and haunting masterwork.

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