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Kate Grenville was born in Sydney. Her most recent novel, The Idea of Perfection, won the Orange Prize for Fiction and became a long-running bestseller. Her five other works of fiction have won numerous awards. Kate Grenville lives in Sydney with her family.
Fellow novelist ANNE BERRY on KATE GRENVILLE
Quite honestly words fail me when it comes to Kate Grenville’s Secret River. It stands alone. It is exemplary. We are whisked away from England in the company of convicted criminal William Thornhill and his wife, Sal, to a convict colony in Sydney, Australia. It is there that he settles with his family, determined to work the land and make a good life for himself. But he soon comes into conflict with the native Aborigines. It is a treasure this story, told in my opinion by one of the finest writers I have ever read.
Sarah Thornhill is the youngest child of William Thornhill, convict-turned-landowner on the Hawkesbury River. Her stepmother calls her willful, but handsome Jack Langland loves her and she loves him. Me and Jack, she thinks, how could it go wrong? But there's an ugly secret in Sarah's family. That secret takes her into the darkness of the past, and across the ocean to the wild coasts of New Zealand. Among the strangers of that other place, she can begin to understand. Kate Grenville takes us back to the early Australia of The Secret River and the Thornhill family. This is Sarah's story. It's a story of love lost and found, tangled histories and how it matters to keep stories alive.
One of Anne Berry's favourite books. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2006. An epic novel of the early settlers in Australia, of the plight of the Aborigines and the crushing of ambition by the pure hardship of developing the land. We know the history but interestingly this leaves the reader to decide on the rights and wrongs as the facts are portrayed. It’s a very grand, rich, multifaceted work indeed. Comparison: Indra Sinha, Khaled Husseini, Barbara Kingsolver.
February 2009 Book of the Month. Following the success of The Secret River, Grenville's latest novel is a story loosely based on fact, following the young Daniel Rooke travelling to Australia to set up an observatory. Rooke has been trying to find his place in society and when he starts to integrate with the Aborigines feels he has found something worthwhile at last. However, this is still a time where his loyalties will be tested. Beautifully written, with evocative descriptive prose, perfect for any reading group. Click the screen below to view a video of Kate Grenville talking about The Lieutenant.
In 1788 Daniel Rooke sets out on a journey that will change the course of his life. As a lieutenant in the First Fleet, he lands on the wild and unknown shores of New South Wales. There he sets up an observatory to chart the stars. But this country will prove far more revelatory than the stars above. Based on real events, The Lieutenant tells the unforgettable story of Rooke's connection to an Aboriginal child - a remarkable friendship that resonates across the oceans and the centuries.
Shielded from emotional and physical abuse by layers of fat, Lilian struggles to escape a suffocating existence in the home of her tyrannical Victorian father and her elegant but ineffectual mother. Madness, cruelty and sexuality permeate the family's upper-crust Australian world. Lilian Una Singer starts life at the beginning of the twentieth century as the daughter of a prosperous middle-class Australian family. She ends it as a cheerfully eccentric bag-lady living on the streets, quoting Shakespeare. This book traces the progress of her life's journey, and why she made the choices she did. She's a person large in spirit as well as body, who wants to invent her own story, rather than allow it to be invented for her. Life presents her with many obstacles including the sinister advances of her father - but in spite of this she succeeds. Triumphantly she makes her life her own, savouring every moment with the reminder that 'everything matters'.
Kate Grenville's The Secret River was one of the most loved novels of 2006. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and awarded the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, the story of William Thornhill and his journey from London to the other side of the world has moved and exhilarated hundreds of thousands of readers. Searching for the Secret River tells the story of how Grenville came to write this wonderful book. It is in itself an amazing story, beginning with Grenville's great-great-great grandfather. Grenville starts to investigate her ancestor, hoping to understand his life. She pursues him from Sydney to London and back, and slowly she begins to realise she must write about him. Searching for the Secret River maps this creative journey into fiction, and illuminates the importance of family in all our lives.
London, 1807. William Thornhill, happily wedded to his childhood sweetheart Sal, is a waterman on the River Thames. Life is tough but bearable until William makes a mistake, a bad mistake for which he and his family are made to pay dearly. His sentence: to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. The Thornhills arrive in this harsh and alien land that they cannot understand and which feels like a death sentence. But among the convicts there is a rumour that freedom can be bought, that 'unclaimed' land up the Hawkesbury offers an opportunity to start afresh, far away from the township of Sydney. When William takes a hundred acres for himself he is shocked to find Aboriginal people already living on the river. And other recent arrivals - Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan and Mrs Herring - are finding their own ways to respond to them. Soon Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life.