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The Lieutenant (Thornhill Family #2)

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  2,457 Ratings  ·  363 Reviews
As a boy in England, Daniel Rooke was always an outsider. Ridiculed in school and misunderstood by his parents, Daniel could only hopeagainst all the evidencethat he would one day find his calling. His affinity for and ability with numbers takes him away from home and narrow-minded school, winning him a place in the Naval Academy where he becomes obsessed with Euclid and K ...more
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Published September 2nd 2009 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published December 31st 2007)
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Joanne Not at all. This one is a sequel in terms of the time period and the themes, not the main story or characters
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Community Reviews

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Kim

In this novel, Kate Grenville returns to the time and place which inspired her in The Secret River: the early days of the British colony in New South Wales. This time her central character, Daniel Rooke, is based on Lieutenant William Dawes, the First Fleet’s astronomer, who was also a skilled linguist, engineer and surveyor.

Grenville portrays Rooke as a brilliant but shy and socially awkward man: a mathematician, musician, linguist and astronomer, who becomes friends with a young girl from the
...more
Cherie
Apr 20, 2014 Cherie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I expected a dry, factual story. That is what all of the reviews I read seemed to indicate.

How wrong this was. It was not dry, but it was not the snappy, fast paced stories that we are all used to reading these days. There was no danger or supprise waiting around every corner.

Facts, facts are sometimes dry and slow. An introduction into the word of a young boy and what he saw and how he felt in a world that he did not seem to fit into at all is what I saw and read. It was told as simply as it h
...more
Lyn Elliott
I have read a considerable amount of Australian history over the years and though The Lieutenant is at least part invention, this fictionalised story has had a more powerful effect on me than has reading the more dispassionate histories.

I approached ‘The Lieutenant with a sense of foreboding, knowing that its theme of first contacts between English settlers and Aboriginal people in Sydney must deal with cruelty, violence and dispossession.

Kate Grenville has managed, however, to write about the
...more
Brian
Mar 18, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate Grenville's latest book tells the story of Daniel Rooke, an astronomer with the First Fleet sent from England to bring convicts to Botany Bay and his interaction with the aboriginal people, and in particular with a young girl called Tagaran. It's based on the historical account of William Dawes, lieutenant and astronomer with that first expedition who had a similar friendship with a young aboriginal girl.

The character of Daniel Rooke is powerfully conceived and his story is immensely human
...more
Penny
Dec 31, 2013 Penny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This is about the opening up of the convict settlements of Australia. It follows the life of a young lieutenant who is actually involved with astronomical studies. He is a good linguist and becomes involved with local aborigines - as the relationship between the English and the Aborigines deteriorates he finds himself unable to please both sides.

This is well-written as all Kate Grenville books are and although it is a stand-alone story it continues with the theme of Australian history that she h
...more
PattyMacDotComma
Loved it. I knew it was based on a real story, but I didn't realise it was so closely based that it was really a fictional biography - the real story with the blanks filled in. Only the names were changed to protect, etc.

But limiting a review to such an offhand summary would be to sell Grenville short, and she is much too valuable a literary asset to do that. She certainly did more than fill the blanks.

She has dramatised a remarkable set of real circumstances - a sensitive young man who comes o
...more
Tracy Terry
Not a book I enjoyed. Personally I longed for this to be more of a 'human interest story' about relationships and less of a story, no matter how interesting, about astronomy and Daniel's unravelling of the native language.

Sectioned into what was effectively three parts I really struggled with the first part which dealt mainly with Daniel's childhood in England as it felt as if I wasn't reading a story so much as reading a list of notes the author had jotted down to remind herself of where she in
...more
Carol
Oct 08, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-rated

Kate Grenville based her novel on the life of a real Marine officer, William Dawes, who laid the foundation for learning the Aboriginal language - his studies were the most comprehensive at the time, and his notes show the friendly relationship he had with a native girl. Dawes later fought for abolition of slavery in Antigua and died in poverty. Grenville writes this novel about him - as Daniel Rooke - with great affection, and subtlety.

This is a beautiful novel - sensitive, learned and heartbr
...more
Anna
Apr 12, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was an excellent book. With the narrative told entirely from the perspective of Daniel Rooke, it was essential for his character and motivations to be clear, and I found him to be an extremely believable and relatable character. Kate Grenville has captured the feeling of being an outsider in a compelling way, and I think much of the strength of the book was due to this excellent characterisation.

The descriptions of people and scenery were beautifully written and a pleasure to rea
...more
Starseeker
3.5 stars.
I enjoyed this novel quite a lot.
The main character was interesting to learn about and his interactions with the Indigenous tribe there was fascinating.
The plot was pretty placid and not a lot happened as it focused a lot on the main character himself and his relationships.
I loved this take on history and the characters within Grenville's novels so far seem to be complex which I also really liked as well.
I recommend this one as well if you're interested in Australian history.
Russell
Nov 06, 2013 Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aarti
Aug 17, 2009 Aarti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate Grenville's The Secret River is one of my all-time favorite books, not only for the plot and the characters, but for Grenville's complete mastery over the English language. She knows how to wield it and wind it and make it magical. Part of the excitement of opening a new book, for me, is in the hope of discovering an author like Grenville, who can take my breath away with her writing.

The Lieutenant centers around the same theme as The Secret River- the colonization of Australia by the Briti
...more
Emily Witt
Review originally posted on A Keyboard and an Open Mind 15/01/2016:

When I first finished this book, I gave it four stars, because I wasn’t quite sure that I liked it enough to give it a full five. But since I was still very much thinking about it the next day, and found myself poring over the digitised versions of William Dawes’ notebooks (William Dawes being the real life lieutenant from whose life and work Kate Grenville took inspiration for this book), as well as still smiling and slightly te
...more
Roger Brunyate
Jul 04, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, australia-nz
A Universe of Impossibility

Kate Grenville has a genius for placing her readers at the heart of a moral dilemma and making us feel it as though it were our own. Unbearably, it is a context whose outcome we already know, where good decisions are virtually impossible; even the most sympathetic characters will be forced by the tide of history to make, or at least condone, decisions that they feel to be morally wrong. In her magnificent previous novel, The Secret River, Grenville fictionalized the li
...more
Helen Petrovic
Jun 30, 2014 Helen Petrovic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely gorgeous book; a sensitive and very personal account of friendship, integrity, duty and understanding. It is a heartwarming tale of humanity, and of a man with an uncompromising moral compass, surrounded by brutality.

Based on the historical records of William Dawes, The Lieutenant recounts the story of Daniel Rooke, an astronomer who travelled with the First Fleet, and was the first man to create a written record the language of the Cadigal people.

We meet Daniel Rooke in
...more
switterbug (Betsey)
In late 18th century England, Daniel Rooke is a marine lieutenant who reluctantly goes to war for the Crown in the American Revolution. He was always a square peg, bullied by other boys in his youth. A generally solitary person, he studies math and music and gazes at the stars. His true calling is astronomy and linguistics, not fighting. Physically toughened by the violence he witnesses in the war, he continues to remain an outsider to the status quo. He seeks knowledge, unity, and connectedness ...more
Annemieke Windt
Close, very close, but no cigar. That's really what I think after finishing Kate Grenville's novel The Lieutenant. I liked the idea behind the book. I love her style of writing, but I don't know. There seems to be something that's just not there. So after finishing it, I feel a little bit let down.

The Lieutenant tells the story of a friendship between an English lieutenant who comes to the early colony in Australia and an Indigenous girl. In modern times we would call the guy a bit of a nerd, i
...more
Elaine
Jan 17, 2012 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in faultless prose, Kate Grenville's The Lieutenant takes us into the journey of one soul, Daniel Rooke, a mathematical and musical genius. He is also an astronomer of no mean talent. Unfortunately, jobs as an astronomer were mighty scarce in 18th century England. Because the American colonies were rebelling, however, there were jobs in the Royal Navy. Thus, this solitary genius became a military officer. I found myself thinking that had he been 18 in 1967, he would have been demonstrati ...more
Beth Camp
Oct 20, 2012 Beth Camp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grenville presents a compelling story with The Lieutenant. I found this book because of my interest in early Australian history; the story is set in those days of first contact between the native people of what came to be Botany Bay and Sydney and the English -- a small party of guards, soldiers and officers, and transportees.

But the story begins first with a remarkable young boy, Daniel Rooke, an outcast because of his giftedness, his ability to know numbers. He becomes an astronomer, a major
...more
Kerri
Mar 21, 2013 Kerri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic book weaving Australian history into a gripping novel. I quickly read The Secret River before this book, as I was told it was the better novel. I, however, loved the Lieutenant.I came to love it even more when I found out that Rooke (the main character) was actully modelled after a real person Lt. William Dawes, a British marine. As someone in my book club said he was obviously a man intelligent and empathetic way before his time.

Rooke is an outsider, an awkward child genius w
...more
Mary Refalo
Jul 06, 2016 Mary Refalo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
This novel, a fictionalised account of the experiences of the first English men to arrive in Australia, is sensitive and poignant. Grenville has great conviction in this genre, and The Lieutenant does not disappoint. Told from the perspective of Lieutenant Daniel Rooke, Grenville develops a beautiful empathy between this character, the Gadigal people and the reader.

The early chapters of the story are fairly bland, with Rooke's character being depicted as one who is clinical and ordered. however
...more
Louise
Like Grenville’s earlier work, The Secret River, this novel deals with the tension and conflict which were part and parcel of the colonization of Australia by the English which began in 1788 with the arrival of the First Fleet.

The novel presents a broad range of ideas to consider - the difficulty of reconciling duty and conscience, the universality of humanity in spite of differences in skin colour, beliefs, proximity and culture and the enhanced understanding which comes through a shared langu
...more
Rachel
A beautifully written book about Daniel Rooke a shy, but brilliant lieutenant who travels with the First Fleet to New South Wales. He is tasked by the Royal Astronomer with setting up an observatory and watching for the return of Halle's comet. As he does this he comes into contact with the local Cadigan Aboriginal tribe. In particular he befriends a young girl Tagaran who assists him in painstakingly learning the language. The excitement of piecing together a new language is palpable. Rooke is ...more
Caroline
Feb 18, 2012 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People have outlined the plot elsewhere. Suffice it to say I was deeply touched by the relationship between Rooke and his young Aboriginal friend, and their efforts to communicate, and learn one another's languages. I know from other books that life in the penal colony in New South Wales was incredibly harsh. This was just vaguely hinted at in this book. It did contain one passage that dealt with extreme violence, which I hate, so I skipped it. I didn't lose any sense of the narrative in doing s ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is not as strong as her The Secret River, but is quite good. Her prose is deceptively simple, but is capable of evoking a strong emotional response. The story is that of the first settlement at New South Wales, Australia and the consequent interactions of the British and Aborigines. Based loosely on the life of one man from that original settlement, she relates the realization of himself as but a part of all of life, and the price he must pay to stand against wrong. How difficult it is to s ...more
Fiona
A really lovely, satisfying read. Similar in many ways to The Secret River but, for me, so much better. Although Grenville's writing sometimes seems simplistic due to her very measured way of writing, if you take the time to think about the words and phrases on the page, the depth and beauty of her descriptions of people, places, and the natural world, are achingly poignant. I suppose that's why I don't listen to audiobooks.

The timeless message of the book is that to stand by and watch whilst ot
...more
Alice
Mar 06, 2010 Alice rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am so conflicted over this book. I was intrigued by its premise -- the outsider who yearns to become an insider (with the native people of Australia). The decoding of the natives' language was fascinating. I think part of what spoiled it was that I knew the British officers would be brutal and that there was no happy ending. Some of the characters were predictable, and I think that, too, made me less than thrilled by the book. In short a great idea but not a great execution. And I found the en ...more
Mish
This is a beautiful story about an Astronomer Daniel Rooke who sails on the first fleet to the NSW coast to study the Halley’s Comet but instead he meets aboriginal girl called Tagaran and lovely friendship is formed.

I have only given it 3 stars because I felt it was a very slow beginning but things did pick up for me when there was more interaction between solders and aboriginals. The historical elements were fascinating and the growing friendship and trust between the 2 main characters was jus
...more
Alison
Jun 28, 2015 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read Grenville's secret River I wa expecting more of the same with this book, but that was not the case. This book is far more factual and therfeore perhaps a bit dry - however, it is well written with strong characters that are easy to relate to. It describes beautifully the joy and fear from both the Aboriginal people and Rooke as they discover more about each other, and awakening of understanding even without language. Also, the sheer arrogance and stupidity of so called civilised whit ...more
Jennifer
Oct 26, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this historical novel by Kate Grenville so much better than the first one in the [Colonial Trilogy]. I think partly because she spent most of her time with one character, lovingly showing us the world from his point of view. Partly because I could reconcile with the events of the story so much more easily to, I'm sure. It is important to note that the first two books in the Colonial Trilogy are only loosely connected. They are not chronological and in no way could one be considered a seq ...more
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Kate Grenville is one of Australia's best-known authors. She's published eight books of fiction and four books about the writing process. Her best-known works are the international best-seller The Secret River, The Idea of Perfection, The Lieutenant and Lilian's Story (details about all Kate Grenville's books are elsewhere on this site). Her novels have won many awards both in Australia and the UK ...more
More about Kate Grenville...

Other Books in the Series

Thornhill Family (3 books)
  • The Secret River
  • Sarah Thornhill

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“Everything in his life had come down to the sensation of her fingers against his. The person he was, the history he carried within himself, every joy and grief he had ever experienced, slipped way like an irrelevant garment. He was nothing but skin, speaking to another skin, and between the skins there was no need to find any words.” 6 likes
“What an astonishing thing, that her praise filled his heart.” 4 likes
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