The idea of this blog is to facilitate the love of reading by collecting news about new books, or sometimes good old books. It is also dedicated to stamping out the scourge of e-books, Kindles, Kobo's, i-Pads, and all other such abominations.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville, the Australian author who won the Orange Prize for The Idea of Perfection, has written a remarkable book based on the story of her ancestors. Set in Australia in the early 1800's, The Secret River tells the story of William Thorton and his wife Sara who come from a poverty-stricken life in London where William was convicted of theft. A life sentence in the penal colony saves him from the gallows. Life is not easy in the colony and it takes years for Thornton to earn his freedom. When he does, he becomes a trader on the river. His dream is to find land of his own. He finds that land on Hawkesbury River and takes Sal and his growing family to live in an unprotected area. It is a crude and uneasy existence. Aborigines do not take well to the interlopers, cutting down the brush and planting fields of corn. Grenville is brilliant at portraying the conflict between the illiterate Thornton, who is desperate to find a way to accomodate the aboriginal population, other settlers who are much more antagonistic and militant and the aborigines who are determined to drive the settlers away. Sal and William have the grit and determination to survive in this hostile environment. Ironically as Thornton realizes his dream of owning land, he also understands that Sal feels is imprisoned by it and longs to return to London.

Securing the land comes at a terrible cost that takes its toll on William and Sal. Grenville explores marriage and the pressures it must absorb with sensitivity. It's a wonderful read.

The Secret River was published this year and is available in hardcover.
Kte Grenville is a Booker Prize nominee.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it the Australians seem to be able to write so much more dramatically and grippingly about their history than Canadians do? We have roughly the same history they do but they have turned theirs into a much more fertile field for literature. It seems Canadians always want to turn their historical stories into weird pschyodramas that don't really come off, as if we didn't really trust the historical facts to stand as significant enough on their own. I suspect this is all part of the old Canuck insecurity, something that has never bothered the Aussies. This sounds like another great one.

9:43 AM  
Blogger bookmaven said...

I've been thinking about your comment. I wonder whether it seems that way to us because it is such a foreign landscape. When I think about Jack Hodgins writing about Vancouver Island, and David Adams Richards work just to mention two writers-- I think we in Canada have alot to offer. Australian writers have the luxury of being a bit more isolated which has to be a help. Thanks for the comment

7:58 PM  

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