Book Review: The Trout Opera by Matthew Condon

The Trout Opera by Matthew CondonI have read very few books that take place in Australia so when I heard about this book I was interested to read it.

The main character of the book is a 99-year old man who is chosen to appear at the olympic games opening ceremony. It was a fun book to read.

The Trout Opera: What It Is About

From Dutch online book store “After several lifetimes of living anonymously in the outback, Wildred Lampe is finally marked out for greatness in his hundredth year by the Sydney Olympic Committee who need an Australian everyman for their opening ceremony.

On the verge of becoming a legend, Wilfred Lampe is in his paddock when a freak accident looks likely to rob him of his chance. Helpless in his hospital bed, Wilfred discovers he has a great-niece, the wild and troubled Aurora. She has come to take him home, where he belongs.

As Wilfred and Aurora criss-cross Australia in a clapped-out old Humber Vogue, Wilfred comes face to face with the new Australia, and Aurora, enmeshed in the complex social problems of a modern world, is taught how to repair her life.”

The Trout Opera: What I Thought

The story is divided into pieces from the perspectives of several people in different situations. For instance, there are the two men from the Olympic committee who take Wilfred with them, Wilfred himself, at the age of 99, but also as a 6-year old boy and at several different ages. Then there is Aurora, the great-niece, in her current situation, but she also thinks back to the recent and more distant past. There is Aurora’s boyfriend, then there is a radio host, and maybe a few more people that I forgot to mention.

Anyway, a lot of people and situations that alternate, each taking a chapter at a time (there are 70 chapters in total). I found it a bit confusing because you’re constantly in the head of someone else, or of the same person but at a different age. That made it a difficult story to follow.

The story and the people in it are interesting, however. Wilfred in the hospital, Wilfred as a young adult, the Olympic committee, Aurora and her problems, the radio host with his own problems. Some pieces I found fun to read while others were a bit longwinded.

After a while it becomes clear how all the people and situations relate to each other and then the story starts to become alive for me. Slowly the reader finds out what poor circumstances Wilfred has lived in and is still living in. He seemed to have missed the whole development of Australia as a modern nation and on the other hand, he didn’t really miss much, because he’s fine as he is. And we find out about the difficult situation of Aurora as well as how the radio presenter fits into the story.

The mountains, the river, the trout: it’s all described beautifully. It’s also funny how trout and fish in general repeatedly appear in the book.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book: for review from the Dutch publishers

I read this in: Dutch, the original language is English

Number of pages: 624

First published: 2011 (Dutch, “De forellenopera”; English edition 2007)

Genre: contemporary fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

8 Responses to Book Review: The Trout Opera by Matthew Condon

  1. Suzanne says:

    I’ve heard of this book, but didn’t really know what it was about. It does sound interesting — providing a different look at Australia.

  2. parrish says:

    I’m not sure if this appeals or not, love the idea of the complexity of the different narratives, but how many are there here? & how do they all fit into the overall tale especially with the added different time frames, but if it works out to some sort of conclusion that’s fine, has left me pondering.

  3. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I have never heard of this book but I am intrigued by it.
    Thanks for sharing your review Judith

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

  4. Cindy says:

    The title alone would make me want to read it 🙂

  5. elsje says:

    De titel doet me denken aan het Forellenkwintet dat de hoofdpersoon uit het volgende boekgrrls-boek speelt, uit An equal music. Lees je daar ook mee mee, Judith?

    • Leeswammes says:

      Els, ik heb An Equal Music al eens gelezen, maar was inderdaad van plan het nog eens te lezen. Wacht even, ik geloof dat een vriendin van mij dat boek heeft en niet meer weet dat ze het van mij geleend heeft. Oei. 🙂

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