In 1806 William Thornhill is transported for life from the slums of London to New South Wales. His arrival with wife Sal and their children at first feels like a death sentence. But Thornhill discovers the colony can turn a person into a free man, and eight years later he sails up the Hawkesbury and claims his own patch of ground.
However, from the moment he sets foot on this land he has the feeling of being watched by the original inhabitants, the Darug people. There is tension between the Aboriginals and the new settlers, and as the situation spirals out of control Thornhill has to make the toughest decision of his life.
Paul Blackwell's reading captures the hopes, dreams, conflict and struggle at the heart of this historical masterpiece.
About the Author
Kate Grenville was born in Sydney, Australia. She's published eight books of fiction, including the multiple prize-winners The Secret River, The Lieutenant, The Idea of Perfection, and Lilian's Story. She's also published three books about the writing process that are classic texts for Creative Writing classes, and a memoir about the research and writing of The Secret River.
Grenville writes about Australia, but her themes are universal: love, violence, and survival. Her characters are often inspired by real historical characters: her own nineteenth century convict ancestor, an early Australian settler; a bag-lady on the streets of 1950s Sydney who quotes Shakespeare for a living; a soldier in the Sydney of 1788 who shares an extraordinary friendship of tenderness and respect with a young Aboriginal girl.
Grenville's international prizes include the Orange Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and a shortlisting for the Man Booker Prize. Her books have been published all over the world and translated into many languages, and two have been made into feature films.
"Fabulous historical fiction." -- The Australian
"One of the most entertaining, accomplished, engaging novels written in this country." -- The Courier Mail
"The Secret River is a powerful, highly credible account of how a limited man of good instincts becomes involved in enormity and atrocity. It is, at one remove, a sane and moving allegory of Australian development. It has quiet drama and drama of the hectic ghastly breakneck kind. It would make a fine film.It has the subtlety of being a sort of Swiss Family Robinson saga about the Australian dream. In historical terms it dramatises the settler's dream and it all but climaxes in its representation of the Australian nightmare. Then there is calm and sadness and the colour drained from the dream. The Secret River is a historical novel, full of contemporary insight and it is also a subtle expression in fictional terms of the myth of collective guilt for the fate of the Aborigines. It is to Kate Grenville's credit that she never surrenders her sense of the individual faces she captures as she tells this story. I suspect a lot of readers are going to find this book both subtle and satisfying." -- The Age