Synopses & Reviews
The Orange Prize-winning author Kate Grenville recalls her family's history in an astounding novel about the pioneers of New South Wales. Already a best seller in Australia, The Secret River
is the story of Grenville's ancestors, who wrested a new life from the alien terrain of Australia and its native people. London, 1806. William Thornhill, a Thames bargeman, is deported to the New South Wales colony in what would become Australia. In this new world of convicts and charlatans, Thornhill tries to pull his family into a position of power and comfort. When he rounds a bend in the Hawkesbury River and sees a gentle slope of land, he becomes determined to make the place his own. But, as uninhabited as the island appears, Australia is full of native people, and they do not take kindly to Thornhill's theft of their home.
The Secret River is the tale of Thornhill's deep love for his small corner of the new world, and his slow realization that if he wants to settle there, he must ally himself with the most despicable of the white settlers, and to keep his family safe, he must permit terrifying cruelty to come to innocent people.
"A riveting narrative unfolds into a chilling allegory...[a] rich historical novel....Grenville's best, and a giant leap forward." Kirkus Reviews
"Grenville writes lyrically, especially in her description of the Australian landscape, while her gift for the telling phrase...enlivens an essentially dark narrative." Booklist
"The narrative offers a fascinating look at the uneasy coexistence between the settlers and the aborigines, as well as at the internal pressures of a marriage where husband and wife nurture contradictory dreams." Library Journal
"The Secret River is a vivid and moving portrayal of poverty, struggle and the search for peace."
"The most remarkable quality of Kate Grenville's new novel is the way it conveys the enormous tragedy of Australia's founding through the moral compromises of a single ordinary man....Grenville's powerful telling of this story is so moving, so exciting, that you're barely aware of how heavy and profound its meaning is until you reach the end in a moment of stunned sadness." Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review
In 1806 William Thornhill, an illiterate English bargeman and a man of quick temper but deep compassion, steals a load of wood and, as a part of his lenient sentence, is deported, along with his beloved wife, Sal, to the New South Wales colony in what would become Australia. The Secret River
is the tale of William and Sals deep love for their small, exotic corner of the new world, and Williams gradual realization that if he wants to make a home for his family, he must forcibly take the land from the people who came before him. Acclaimed around the world, The Secret River
is a magnificent, transporting work of historical fiction.
About the Author
Kate Grenville was born in Sydney, Australia. Her novel The Idea of Perfection won the Orange Prize, Britain's most valuable literary award. Her other works of fiction have been published to acclaim in Australia and overseas and have won state and national awards. She lives in Sydney with her family.