10 February 2011

Utopian Man

by Lisa Lang

Allen and Unwin. Australian, History. Paperback RRP $23.99

Utopian Man is the story of the real life eccentric entrepreneur Edward Cole told with a dash of Lang’s imagination.

Edward Cole was a man of vision. A vision that every man, woman and child could come to a place to relax and read – where trees would grow, bands played, Chinese tea served and animals romped. This vision was realised in the late 1800’s in the heart of Melbourne, where Edward William Cole created Cole’s Book Arcade.

This man was so forward thinking that he advertised for a wife in the newspaper and ended up marrying Eliza eight weeks later. This marriage was a good, faithful and happy one with five children being brought into the world. Eliza and Edward were married until death separated them.

Cole’s vision flourished but then a series of events nearly led to his downfall – the death of his youngest, the recession, his fraternising with Chinese and blacks, séances, opium dens, corruption within parliament and amongst his friends. Cole survived but only just.

Utopian Man may be an imaginary tale but Lisa Lang has brought the 1800’s to life. I looked up more on Edward William Cole after reading this book and found that he was a fascinating man and Utopian Man is a fascinating story. Corruption, lust, drugs – it has it all!

No comments:

Post a Comment