Cover image for The adventures of Miles and Isabel
The adventures of Miles and Isabel
Gilling, Tom.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Miles McGinty
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
198 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Originally published under title: Miles McGinty. Melbourne, Vic. : Text Pub., c2001.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Gilling's "New York Times" Notable Book "The Sooterkin" was called "extraordinary . . . like Alice Hoffman, Sherman Alexie, or Gabriel Garcia-Marquez." With his second novel, a delightful tale of true love in rough-and-tumble, turn-of-the-century Sydney, Gilling has "proved himself an exceptionally talented novelist twice over" ("The Age").

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Writhing with labor pains, the very pregnant actress Eliza McGinty is on stage portraying Hamlet in lieu of the drunken actor originally slated for the part, while in the audience the demure Mrs. Ernest Dowling is having contractions of her own. Miles and Isabel would share more than the same birth date in 1856; they would be children of the Industrial Revolution, fascinated by the power of turning cogs and flying machines. Isabel is the child of privilege and a victim of her own femininity in a male-dominated society, and Miles is the illegitimate son of an actress traveling as part of a levitation act, but their common love of invention and possibility would put them on a journey of souls destined to meet. Fantastical and magical, this novel is peppered with humor and the excitement of a time period laden with anticipation and opportunities for the creative, restless minds of innovation. --Elsa Gaztambide

Publisher's Weekly Review

Miles and Isabel, two Australians born on the same night in 1856, lead vastly different lives that nonetheless put them on a collision course in this second novel by Gilling (The Sooterkin). As children, both idolize the country's first balloonist, Tobias Smith, their infatuation sparking a mutual thirst for adventure and flying. Miles grows up the son of an actress, traveling Australia with his mother and later as the assistant of a levitator. When he comes into possession of a journal kept by Smith, his interest in flying becomes an obsession. Isabel, the youngest daughter of a prosperous Sydney banker, refuses to follow the prescribed route her mother has laid out for her: marriage to a suitably wealthy and dull businessman. Instead, craving independence, she rebels by traveling on her own and mingling with the rougher classes at horse races and in prospecting towns. Though the novel revolves around the inevitable meeting and love affair of Miles and Isabel, their picaresque journeys are peopled with quirky characters that lend the story delicious flavor and send it off on entertaining tangents. Wolunsky, the levitator, regales his audiences with fantastically spun tales of grandly tragic attempts at flight. Isabel's uncle, Dr. Galbraith, a bit of a Victorian mad scientist, attains minor notoriety when he assembles a "Genuine English Safety Bicycle." At times, the writing takes on an almost magical sheen, particularly in passages about flying and levitation. The love story that emerges towards the end is slightly contrived, but fits perfectly with the story's lightly comic, pleasantly wistful ethos. Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda revolves around similarly grandiose 19th-century dreams, but Gilling's novel is an altogether airier affair. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Already a best seller in Gilling's native Australia, this follow-up to The Sooterkin is wonderful and magical. It's the story of two headstrong people born under unusual circumstances on the same day in Sydney in 1856. One (Miles) becomes a "vehicle" for a traveling levitator, while the other (Isabel) is accidentally launched into the air owing to the error of a passing drunkard balloonist, whose notebooks Miles inherits after the balloonist's bizarre death. Synchronicities abound. After finally meeting, Miles and Isabel develop a passion for each other-and a dream of flying flares. The balloonist's arcane notebooks, some theater props, an uncle's early bicycle parts-can these things add up to flight, especially flight from Isabel's rich and objecting parents? The answer to that question determines how one interprets the ending. Can such a charming book end in tragedy? Find out for yourself. A great book for all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/02.]-Robert E. Brown, Minoa Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.