The Secret River by Kate Grenville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was the choice of our new book group aptly named IN GOOD COMPANY. It is the first in a trilogy I don't plan to read, not because it isn't an excellent book. It is. It won the Orange Prize and was a bestseller in Australia. But historical fiction has never been my choice.
On the other hand, I learned a lot from Kate Grenville's beautifully written story of the settling of Australia by criminals transported to New South Wales. She follows William Thornhill and his family as they struggle to exist first in London through petty crime and later in the wilds of a strange, new country. William is caught and sentenced to death, but he is pardoned. Being banished to an untamed country affords William and these other resourceful men a second chance. They land can be theirs.
Unfortunately that opportunity comes at the expense of the native population. (Does this sound familiar?)
Whether by choice or chance the author tells the husband's tale and the reader is left to guess at the internal turmoil of the wife with the hardships of isolation and terrible burdens placed upon her.
Poetic language and an eye for detail brings this book alive.
I particularly loved this quote, "It was as if he had thought his way along a considerable conversation, but only this end-point had surfaced as words."
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