Monday, October 10, 2016

The Claimant: The Extraordinary Story of the Butcher Who Said He Was a Baronet

The Claimant: 

The Extraordinary Story of the Butcher Who Said He Was a Baronet 

By Paul Terry

This book is a pretty wild ride. The description sets it up perfectly, but it's basically about a man who comes out of the wild bush of Wagga Wagga, Australia in the mid/late 1800's claiming to be a long-lost English Baron. Pandemonium ensues, both from the common folk who see him as a hero and the established aristocracy who see him as a threat.

Terry clearly spent a lot of time researching this story, and you can see it in all the details he adds. I especially liked how he told the current events happening in Wagga Wagga as the trials progressed, and their evolving thoughts on the whole spectacle even though they weren't directly involved. He also does an amazing job of tracing the Claimants footsteps throughout his life without it seeming to bog the narrative down. At the end Terry even goes on to tell what happened to the Claimants family and supporters after everything was basically wrapped up. He could have ended it, but instead he goes on and gives you closure, even if the people themselves didn't receive any.

I won't spoil what happens, whether he is or isn't Sir Roger, but I will say that I don't entirely agree with the conclusion the author comes to at the end. Well, I agree with the conclusion but not for the same reasons I suppose. I wouldn't say this book is open ended as there is a very definite opinion put forth by the author, but even he concedes that there are still some questions around the case that will never be answered to the Claimants supporters satisfaction. There are even relatively modern examples of people coming forward with "new information" to prove the Claimant was Sir Roger.

This is a tale of a man who, whether he was Sir Roger or not, lead a rather fascinating life that now exists only as an exciting tale from a previous age. I greatly enjoyed his story, and only wish that his ending was better than it turned out to be.

Copy courtesy of Bonnier Publishing Australia/Echo Publishing, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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