The Secret River

The Secret River

3.81 (18,518 ratings by Goodreads)
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London, 1806 - William Thornhill, happily wedded to his childhood sweetheart Sal, is a waterman on the River Thames. Life is tough but bearable until William makes a terrible mistake for which he and his family are made to pay dearly.

His sentence: to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. Soon Thornhill, a man no better or worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life...

The Secret River is a universal and timeless story of love, identity and belonging.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 23mm | 256g
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • map
  • 0857860844
  • 9780857860842
  • 2,167

Review Text

A vivid evocation of the rawest kind of colonialism. Jem Poster Books
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Review quote

A vivid evocation of the rawest kind of colonialism. -- Jem Poster * * Books * * We have had to wait five years for The Secret River but the wait has been worth it....Splendidly paced, passionate and disturbing. * * The Times * * In one stroke the author captures both Sullivan's emotional dependence and Will's compassion. Will's relationship with Sal is frequently fortified by such psychological insights. Their mutual awareness gives the couple a convincing weight as well as engaging the reader's sympathy and deepening the narrative tension. By this stage, what started as a sumptuous historical with its brilliantly atmospheric depiction of Georgian London's Stygian gloom, has developed into a profound journey of self discovery. * * Independent on Sunday * * Winner of the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction with The Idea of Perfection, Grenville's latest, beautifully written novel concerns William Thornhill, a 19th-century convict from London deported to Australia, where he staked a claim on ancient Aboriginal lands - with tragic consequences. * * Financial Times * * Ambitious new novel... Grenville's skill is to turn what could have been too obviously a representative moral fable into a rich novel of character. * * Sunday Telegraph * * Ouback fiction to shake a didgeridoo at. * * Company Magazine * *
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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 this novel, is also available from Canongate, alongside her first novel, Lilian's Story, and The Lieutenant. Kate Grenville lives in Sydney.
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Rating details

18,518 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 26% (4,738)
4 41% (7,623)
3 24% (4,473)
2 7% (1,223)
1 2% (461)

Our customer reviews

The Secret River is the first in the Thornhill family series by Kate Grenville. It tells the story of William Thornhill and his wife Sarah (Sal) from their childhood together in London, through William's career as a Waterman, his eventual transportation to New South Wales and the life his family made for themselves in the harsh landscape of 19th century Australia. Grenville's thorough research is apparent in the level of detail about everyday life in the new colony, detail that gives the reader a good idea of how life was for the early settlers. Grenville's beautiful prose captures well the characters' hard life and their fleeting glimpses of happiness, as well as the timeless landscape of the Australian continent. The settlers' ignorance of the indigenous population's philosophy and lifestyle becomes clear as the story progresses and the white man's attitude to the blacks is skilfully rendered with a violent climax. In order that he and his family survive, William Thornhill finds himself not only turning a blind eye to injustices, but eventually taking part in atrocities he never dreamed he would encounter. A moving and powerful more
by Marianne Vincent
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