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 The Secret River by Kate Grenville

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Laura
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PostSubject: The Secret River by Kate Grenville   Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:28 pm

The approach that Grenville takes in this novel is unusual: We are presented with a hero that is not heroic at all. William Thornhill, a poor waterman on the Thames, is sent to the newly opened convict colony Australia for smuggling. There, he and his family have to adapt to the new surroundings, new challenges and new people.

This novel did not fulfil my expectations. I expected a light novel with a happy ending. What I got was much more than that: I got a rich novel, full of life and colours, immensely intensive, with amazing pictures that lingered for a long time after I had finished reading.

The story is a dark one, of a man who is trying to discover his own identity in a strange place, and who has to decide whether he wants to be good or evil. He succeeds in doing so - but in a way that the reader does not expect, or at least hopes to be mistaken about his own asssumptions.

For people interested in colonial history, this novel is one of the rare jewels.

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Kathryn
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PostSubject: Re: The Secret River by Kate Grenville   Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:10 am

Kate Grenville is very good at challenging her readers. William Thornhill is a complex character who makes his choices based on survival, rather than wrong or right.

I find that Grenville's characters are often very complex - for example Doug Cheeseman from "The Idea of Perfection" a quiet, timid man who cannot live down his father's reputation of a national hero, or Joan from "Joan Makes History" who escapes from her boring life by imagining herself to be various historical figures. However, her most famous and best loved character (at least in Australia) is Lillian from "Lillian's Story" . Lillian is loosely based on Bea Miles, a famous Sydney eccentric of no fixed address who earned money by quoting Shakespeare to passersby.
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