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The Secret River

The Secret River 1

by Kate Grenville

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 03/05/2013

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $22.99 $18.75
After a childhood of poverty and petty crime in the slums of London, William Thornhill is transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and children in tow, he arrives in a harsh land that feels at first like a death sentence. But among the convicts there is a whisper that freedom can be bought, an opportunity to start afresh. As Thornhill stakes his claim on a patch of ground by the Hawkesbury River, the battle lines between the old and new inhabitants are drawn. The critics agree, The Secret River is a masterpiece; a spellbinding Australian classic about ownership, belonging and identity with universal themes
Historical Fiction
Paperback / softback
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Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville is one of Australia's most celebrated writers. Her bestselling novel The Secret River received the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. The Idea of Perfection won the Orange Prize.

Grenville's other novels include Sarah Thornhill, The Lieutenant, Lilian's Story, Dark Places and Joan Makes History. Kate lives in Sydney and her most works are the non-fiction books One Life- My Mother's Story and The Case Against Fragrance.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • Fiction so powerfully realised that it rewrites Australian history.

    by on

    I read this novel over a month and although it would have been possible for me to read it over a few days, I felt that because the world created by Kate Grenville is so beautifully imagined it would be an injustice not to savour each skilfully written sentence.

    The Secret River tells the story of ferryman William Thornhill who is transported as a convict from London in 1806, and arrives in New South Wales along with his wife, Sal, and their two young sons. The family begin their new life in the colony and after eight years Thornhill is declared a free man, and sails up the Hawkesbury River to claim his hundred acres.

    The years that follow are marred by conflict: frequent clashes between the Aboriginal people who already occupy the land and the settlers who are claiming it for their own result in ongoing tension and distrust between the two cultures.

    At times I found the descriptions of the violence that erupts between the Aboriginal people and the settlers to be confronting and I think Grenvilles intention when it came to writing about this aspect of Australia's history was to appeal to the conscience of every person who reads this story. Despite the serious subtext of the novel, there are some amusing and lighthearted incidents that expose the shortsightedness of the British settlers.

    Kate Grenville dedicated this novel to the Aboriginal people of Australia: past, present and future and her refreshingly vivid, and sometimes unforgiving, descriptions of both the landscape and its inhabitants enabled me to imagine a version of Australias history that much of the historical non-fiction glosses over. This historical fiction novel is so powerfully realised that it could very well pass for a non-fiction account.

    The Secret River is an exquisite novel and its popularity among both Australian and international readers is not surprising. It is essential reading for all Australians and lovers of Australian literature.