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Set in 19th-century Australia, this is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a young orphan.
Voss is the story of the secret passion between an explorer and a naïve young woman. Although they have met only a few times, Voss and Laura are joined by overwhelming, obsessive feelings for each other. Voss sets out to cross the continent. As hardships, mutiny and betrayal whittle away his power to endure and to lead, his attachment to Laura gradually increases.
Laura, waiting in Sydney, moves through the months of separation as if they were a dream and Voss the only reality.
From the careful delineation of Victorian society to the sensitive rendering of hidden love to the stark narrative of adventure in the Australian desert, Patrick White's novel is a work of extraordinary power and virtuosity.
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Failed attempt at profound expression
I normally have plenty of patience with complex slow moving prose but in two laborious efforts to get into Voss, I have given up both times after 100-odd pages. I had the sense that the book contained profound expression which was eluding me. But when I examined sections in more detail the nuanced observation hinted at simply wasn't there. Finally I remembered how Peter Carey did an infinitely better job of describing people in a comparable setting in Oscar and Lucinda, and realised I was wasting my time with Voss. The best I can say is that the narrator may take some of the blame. When an audiobook book doesn't work, it can be hard to tell.
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