The Lieutenant

The Lieutenant

3.63 (3,064 ratings by Goodreads)
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In 1788 Daniel Rooke sets out on a journey that will change the course of his life. As a lieutenant in the First Fleet, he lands on the wild and unknown shores of New South Wales. There he sets up an observatory to chart the stars. But this country will prove far more revelatory than the stars above.

Based on real events, The Lieutenant tells the unforgettable story of Rooke's connection to an Aboriginal child - a remarkable friendship that resonates across the oceans and the centuries.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 20mm | 234g
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 1847673473
  • 9781847673473
  • 4,535

Review Text

A deft historical tale of discovery . . . [Dawes'] qualities shine lambently through Grenville's elegantly calibrated prose . . . The lasting impression of her novel is not of drama, but of a lovely, watchful stillness: a sort of astronomy of the human heart Jane Shilling Sunday Telegraph
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Review quote

A deft historical tale of discovery . . . [Dawes'] qualities shine lambently through Grenville's elegantly calibrated prose . . . The lasting impression of her novel is not of drama, but of a lovely, watchful stillness: a sort of astronomy of the human heart -- Jane Shilling * * Sunday Telegraph * * Grenville inhabits characters with a rare completeness . . . the reader shares the excitement of his widening consciousness . . . Grenville writers with a poet's sense of rhythm and imagery . . . [and] explores the natural rifts that arise between settlers and native people with a deep understanding of the ambiguities inherent in such conflicts. She occupies the mind of Rooke with a kind of vivid insistence, and his isolation - and moral dilemmas - become ours. -- Jay Parini * * Guardian * * Grenville is one of Australia's most popular writers, and this novel is a triumph. Read it at once. * * The Times * * Grenville's prose is clear and clean, employing a gently leading storytelling style that is especially welcome with a foreign land and a foreign time . . . Grenville has brought imagination and compassion to the source of so much of Australia's retroactive hand-wringing. What distinguishes her portrayal of Aboriginal culture is that for once appreciation, sympathy and admiration get the better of impotent guilt. -- Lionel Shriver * * Daily Telegraph * * A compelling narrative . . . an intelligent, spare, always engrossing imagining of first contact, in which the fictionalization of history allows a comment about current postcolonial race relationships which escapes the didacticism of special pleading. -- Patrick Denman Flanery * * Times Literary Supplement * * A particular kind of stillness marks Kate Grenville's characters out as uniquely hers . . . Between the words and among them, this is a profoundly uplifting novel - one that leaves you understanding Rooke's premise: that "Truth [needs] hundreds of words, or none." * * Independent * * In lucid prose and perfectly measured strides, Grenville lays down her riveting tale. A novel aglow with empathy, its author's capacious visions still deliver an elemental thrill. -- Stephanie Cross * * Daily Mail * * The Lieutenant is a lovely example of historical fiction at its best: complex, demanding, and always revealing. * * Independent on Sunday * * In this novel, morally troubling issues of exploitation and hypocrisy carry reverberations well beyond the convincingly portrayed historical moment. * * Sunday Telegraph * * This engrossing story evokes the excitement of discovery and the beauty of an unspoilt land. -- Anthony Gardner * * Scottish Daily Mail * * Grenville lingers carefully over her exposition of Rooke, setting him up as a singular character. This enhances the drama of the book's later pages, in which his sensibilities are so disastrously different to those of his shipmates. . . . Genuinely affecting, her new novel is another capable tranche of character-based, historical fiction and a worthy foil to its predecessor. -- Melissa McClements * * Financial Times * * Grenville masterfully depicts the brutal simplicity of the early settlers' life in New South Wales . . . through Rooke's peaceable, curious character, the moral tragedy of the Aboriginal compromise and the cowardice of the collective are neatly wrought. Grenville has stuck to what she knows, but she has done it well. -- Renee Rowland * * The Skinny * * A more overtly political book than Grenville's last, but beautifully wrought. * * Psychologies * * Grenville's novel is much more than just another culture-clash novel. She deftly avoids worthiness by making the idealistic Rooke the heart and soul of her story, making us want to believe that his appreciation of the indigenous Australians will continue and that dark clouds won't gather over this alien paradise. When they do, the novel becomes all the more disquieting, for this story is as much a personal tragedy as it is a cultural one. -- Jonathan Eyers * * Metro * * Writing in a clear, simple style, Grenville elegantly evokes the wonder and tension inherent in the first meetings between these two different worlds. -- Natasha Tripney * * Observer * * A Vividly transporting tale about one of the first expeditions to arrive in New South Wales . . . The deft, lucid prose of Grenville captures a sense of the simple wonders of communication and the grim impact of colonialism. * * Metro * * The Lieutenant is a fast, enthralling read, peopled with lively characters, derived from historical research. * * Irish Times * *
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About Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville is one of Australia's best-loved authors. Her works of fiction have won numerous awards both in Australia and internationally. The Idea of Perfection won the 2001 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and became a long-running bestseller. In 2006 The Secret River won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Searching For The Secret River, the story behind that novel, is also available from Canongate, alongside her first novel, Lilian's Story. Kate Grenville lives in Sydney.
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Rating details

3,064 ratings
3.63 out of 5 stars
5 17% (520)
4 42% (1,297)
3 30% (923)
2 9% (265)
1 2% (59)

Our customer reviews

This book was un-put-down-able! Grenville's descriptions are so real you can smell, touch and see the characters and their surroundings. I lived in Sydney for 5 years but really didn't stop to think much about the first settlers and the impact on the local indiginous people. This is a great history lesson wrapped up in an excellent piece of fiction, and a must for those of you who, like me, grew up as white Australians thinking we were entitled to whatever we wanted, and have since learned better more
by Sarah Nattey
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