Winner of the Australian Book Industry Awards, General Fiction Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction, 2012.
This is the story of Sarah Thornhill, youngest child of the family at the heart of Kate Grenville’s multi-award-winning novel The Secret River.
Her stepmother calls her wilful, but handsome Jack Langland loves her and she loves him. Me and Jack, she thinks, what could go wrong?
But there’s an ugly secret in Sarah’s family. That secret takes her into the darkness of the past, and across the ocean to the wild coasts of New Zealand. Among the strangers of that other place, she can begin to understand.
Sarah Thornhill, a novel by one of our greatest writers, is about love lost and found, tangled histories, and how it matters to keep stories alive.
‘Grenville inhabits characters with a rare completeness…She writes with a poet’s sense of rhythm and imagery.’ Guardian
Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s finest writers. She won the Orange Prize in 2001 for The Idea of Perfection. The Secret River, published in more than twenty countries, was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was shortlisted for both the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Man Booker Prize. The Lieutenant was shortlisted for the New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australian Premiers’ Awards.
The final novel in Grenville's trilogy about the British colonization of New South Wales continues her exploration of the savagery with which emancipated convict settlers ousted the indigenous peoples. The novel, which can be read as a stand-alone, is told from the point-of-view of Sarah, the youngest child of William Thornhill, the conflicted protagonist in The Secret River. From early childhood, Sarah senses her father's troubles, and eventually discovers their terrible source. Her disillusionment will highlight the novel's central question: is it possible to both thrive as an individual and sufficiently atone for the sins of one's ancestors? Sarah's affair with her brother's closest friend, whose mother was an Aborigine, is squashed by Sarah's wicked stepmother, more clich than character. Sarah then marries an English Protestant from Ireland, whose background Grenville exploits nicely: usurpers can be found on any continent. Lyrical passages light up the narrative, and Grenville's profound themes make it tempting to ignore the novel's flaws. Sarah lacks the complexity and credibility of protagonists in the earlier novels, and Grenville postpones the reveal of the family's secrets for too long, perplexingly, as they were already revealed in The Secret River.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Deeply moving historical fiction
For anyone with an interest in Australia's past, this book is an excellent read. As with all of Kate Grenville's books written about this time, this novel offers a rare glimpse of what life in rural NSW may have been like: the isolation, the distances and how hard it was to travel them, as well as the fabric of those who made up society. This book continues the theme of examining the colonists' treatment of and devastating impact on First Nations. Unusually, the tension and interest of the book actually built towards the end, being a bit of a slow burner to start. Definitely worth a read!
The book was riveting up until the last chapter. It felt as if the author was unsure how to end the book. Also quite bizarre why Sarah would leave her husband & child to go somewhere unknown & risky for what ?? At one point a para was repeated but with variation - think the proof reader must have nodded off !