Dhitri's Reviews > The Secret River

The Secret River by Kate Grenville
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Apr 27, 11

bookshelves: australia
Read from April 19 to 25, 2011

The Secret River is a historical fiction about an early 19th century Englishman, William Thornhill, who was transported to Sydney for theft. When he was later freed, he tried to make a living as a farmer on a point of land in the Hawkesbury River.

As he was trying to claim the patch of land his own, he discovered that the land is inhabited by the mysterious Aboriginal folk, who don't seem to share the same idea of property and ownership. Misunderstandings between the whites and blacks mounted and exploded in a bloody clash that Thornhill was forced to accept and take part in, in an effort to ensure his family's safety and his title to the land he so desired.

The narrative sounds familiar: British convicts who were transported to Australia and then pardoned are encouraged to settle in what seemed to them like an empty continent. Eventually they are confronted by the presence of the dark-skinned, funny-talking natives and a bloody clash ensued.

The story risked being filled with the cliches and tragedies of a classic black and white, clash of two worlds tale, but Kate Grenville brilliantly added depth to the narrative by exploring the moral struggles behind the choices the protagonists makes in the book, adding just the right shades of gray to the story. This book is beautifully written with such a rich and vivid prose that pays tribute the natural beauty of the area. Highly recommended.
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Reading Progress

04/20/2011 page 40
12.0% "Behind it pushed water of a different character, barred and furrowed: the sea. He watched the tide, and thought of how the river would go on doing this dance of advance and fall back, long after William Thornhill and the griefs he carried in his heart were dead and forgotten."
04/22/2011 page 150
45.0% "The thing about having things unspoken between two people, he was beginning to see, was that when you had set your foot along that path it was easier to go on than to go back."
04/23/2011 page 290
87.0% "Eating the food of this country, drinking its water, breathing its air, had remade him, particle by particle. This sky, those cliffs, that river were no longer means by which he might return to some other place. This was where he was: not just in body, but in soul as well."
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