Magdelanye's Reviews > The Secret River

The Secret River by Kate Grenville
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's review
May 06, 2011

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bookshelves: mythological-history
Read from May 04 to 06, 2011

This book offers an unsparing glimpse of the atrocities committed in the name of progress. The protagonist is a likable enough fellow struggling to survive and prosper in the harsh, competitive environment into which he was born. His early deprivations fuel his efforts and give him some kind of crude awareness and a determination to make the best of whatever dire circumstance his fate has arranged for him.His courtship of his sweetheart is endearing and I wished the author had giiven us more of her.
Certainly I was rooting for them and it seemed that throughout the course of his claiming his territory and coming to know his aboriginal neighbours that he was breaking through his cultural conditioning.
Kate Grenvilles writing is sparse for the most part and certainly not mystical or flowery but she gives us some wonderful descriptions of our hero's reactions to the powerful elements and his bonding with the land. I especially loved his growing insight into the wisdom of aboriginal ways so it was with deep disappointment that I followed him as he retreated into the grip of mass mind. How I wanted him to slip off and warn his patron of the evil plans...and how difficult it was to read on after his betrayal.
I noticed how I quite turned againt the book after that, resenting the "triumph of civilization' and the ostentatious comforts that justified, for this anti-hero, the measures he had gone to achieve his dreams.
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05/04/2011 page 160
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Emma I agree the book gets a lot tougher when you realise there's no redemption on the way. In that sense it's deeply connected to actual Australian history, and for the story to go elsewhere would not have reflected the reality of settler/indigenous relationships and their outcomes.

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