Parrot and Olivier in America

Parrot and Olivier in America

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
From the two-time Booker Prize-winning author: an irrepressibly funny new novel set in early-nineteenth-century America.
Olivier--an improvisation on the life of Alexis de Tocqueville--is the traumatized child of aristocratic survivors of the French Revolution. Parrot is the motherless son of an itinerant English engraver. They are born on different sides of history, but their lives will be joined by an enigmatic one-armed marquis.
When Olivier sets sail for the nascent United States--ostensibly to make a study of the penal system, but more precisely to save his neck from one more revolution--Parrot will be there, too: as spy for the marquis, and as protector, foe, and foil for Olivier.
As the narrative shifts between Parrot and Olivier--their adventures in love and politics, prisons and finance, homelands and brave new lands--a most unlikely friendship begins to take hold. And with their story, Peter Carey explores the adventure of American democracy with dazzling inventiveness, and with all the richness and surprise of characterization, story, and language that we have come to expect from this superlative writer.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010, c2009.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780307592620
Characteristics: 379 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Alternative Title: Parrot & Olivier in America


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Apr 05, 2016

Just plain unreadable. The author is so taken with his turn of phrase as to make the plot obfuscated and the characters hollow. I lost interest after two chapters. Why read a book that you resent?

Tedious reading, archaic writing style does not give much consideration to expectations of the modern reader. The time-jumping is confusing and adds to the frustration of reading a dense story with enigmatic characters and vague historical context.

Dec 22, 2014

Carey's considerable talents are turned to a dense, richly detailed story of a French aristocrat and the English servant who becomes his confidante and, eventually, friend. Set in Paris, London, and New England in 1830, the novel was inspired by Alexis de Tocqueville's trip to the US. It provides some unexpected twists in the definitions of success and failure.

Jane60201 Jul 19, 2013

I enjoyed this book and the interesting way that both the history of Europe and the history of America are presented but wouldn't consider it light reading.

Jul 18, 2012

You definitely need to have patience to finish this book, some of the language is quite complex and Carey jumps around from character to character in a sometimes confusing manner. Despite this I enjoyed the book and have given it 4 stars.

wwgg Jun 06, 2011

Best book I've read all year. "Bertie & Wooster" leave post-revolution France to discover real democracy in the New World. The dialgue is wonderful. ... may even be historically accurate...

Algonquin_Lisa Mar 09, 2011

Review book - pending

debwalker Dec 08, 2010

A comic historical picaresque.

Infolass Jul 29, 2010

Peter Carey has been nominated for this book for the respected Man Booker Prize for Ficiton.

The book is a reamagining of Alex de Torcqueville's famous journey to America, evoking the old World colliding with the new.

Carey is only one of two authors to have already won this prize twice.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at ALCO

To Top