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A World Elsewhere    by Wayne Johnston order for
World Elsewhere
by Wayne Johnston
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Michael Graves

The story begins at the end of the nineteenth century when the son of a sailor meets, at Princeton, the wealthiest man in America. The relationship between the two highlights significant issues of human existence, in particular the power of the rich over the poor.

The protagonist, Landish Druken, refuses to accept his father's planned destiny by not becoming a Newfoundland sealer captain. Instead he adopts a young boy orphaned from a ship accident resulting from his father's ruthless behaviour. When Landish becomes destitute the only way he can find to save Deacon, the adopted son, is to join his rich college friend in a mansion in North Carolina.

The mansion (which they are not allowed to leave), is based on Biltmore, the actual home of George Vanderbilt II, who is the basis for the rich college friend in the book.

Word play as a literary technique is used extensively, and although always humorous and clever it sometimes gets rather monotonous. The story is in the tradition of Dickens with bigger than life characters and vast social and personal issues. The narrative has many twists and is fun to read, with enough substance to reflect on the human condition.

A World Elsewhere is very entertaining and, like a Dickens novel, a good read.

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