Sam Woodfield's Reviews > Sarah Thornhill

Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville
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's review
Aug 19, 2012

it was ok
Read from August 19 to 28, 2012

This final novel in the trilogy by Kate Grenville follows Sarah Thornhill, the youngest member of the Thornhill family. Sarah, or Dolly as she is known to her family, is the daughter of an ex-convivt who has made a life for himself in the new territory in Australia. Sarah falls in love with a local boy who has a white father and native black mother, but a family secret kept quiet by the Thornhills for years will tear apart their relationship, and affect the course of Sarahs life forever, leaving her living with dark secrets that will consume her for the rest of her years, and lead her on a journey to correct the wrongs of the father.
The book is written in the first person from the view of Sarah herself, and normally in a novel this draws you in. With the twists in this tale and the secrets that are unearthed, I expected to become engrossed in the characters life and feel the pain that Sarah feels as her world, and everything she held as true, unravels. But I didn't - I felt nothin the whole way through this novel. I found myself looking on and completely not interested in what was going on and what would happen next. I didn't think the revelation was as devestating as the novel made out, and I didn't really understand the journey that Sarah takes to correct this. There was not one single character who interested me at all, and this is very unusual for me, particularly when written in the first-person which normally draws me in more.
I understand that this novel is part of a trilogy, and maybe for those that have read the previous 2 novels this makes more sense and has more interest, but I'm not sure this would be the case as I think it's the style of writting and the subject matter which let this novel down. I found the dialogue really difficult to follow, and had to re-read various conversations multiple times to really comprehend them, somthing which is never particularly interesting. I also think that the angle this book takes is all wrong. There were other characters who could tell this story who may have been more interesting. For example, Jack, the half White-half Native young man who steals Sarah' heart but is forced to leave as the family secret is revealed. Directly affected by the secret, he would have offered an interesting view. Or Rachel, the young girl who is bought to live with the family but doesn't speak and is forced into the White way of life - what were her thoughts and feelings at being dragged from her family?
So I think what this novel lacks is depth of view and perspective. Sarah's view is just one of many, and it is these others which would enrich this story and really add interest and creat emotion. Without this, the novel was a little ploddy and emotionless and Sarah's view a little childlike which didn't evolve even as she aged. I found it really disappointing and really had to slog on in order to finish this. It needed more and unfortunately this wasn't something which Grenville provided.
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