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When The Secret River—a novel about frontier violence in early Australia—appeared in 2005, it became an instant best seller and garnered publicity for its unflinching look at Australia’s notorious history. It has since been published all over the world and translated into ...
When The Secret River—a novel about frontier violence in early Australia—appeared in 2005, it became an instant best seller and garnered publicity for its unflinching look at Australia’s notorious history. It has since been published all over the world and translated into twenty languages. Grenville’s next novel, The Lieutenant, continued her exploration of Australia’s first settlement and again, caused controversy for its bold view of her homeland’s beginnings. Sarah Thornhill brings this acclaimed trilogy to an emotionally explosive conclusion.
Sarah is the youngest daughter of William Thornhill, the pioneer at the center of The Secret River. Unknown to Sarah, her father—an ex-convict from London—has built his fortune on the blood of Aboriginal people. With a fine stone house and plenty of money, Thornhill is a man who has reinvented himself. As he tells his daughter, he “never looks back,” and Sarah grows up learning not to ask about the past. Instead, her eyes are on handsome Jack Langland, whom she’s loved since she was a child. Their romance seems idyllic, but the ugly secret in Sarah’s family is poised to ambush them both.
As she did with The Secret River, Grenville once again digs into her own family history to tell a story about the past that still resonates today. Driven by the captivating voice of the illiterate Sarah—at once headstrong, sympathetic, curious, and refreshingly honest—this is an unforgettable portrait of a passionate woman caught up in a historical moment that’s left an indelible mark on the present.
"Laudable . . . exquisite and vibrant."—The Atlantic
"Both brilliant fiction and illuminating personal history."—The Independent
"Beautifully written . . . Can be read as a dissection of a cultural clash or an allegory for colonialism, but at heart, the novel uses fiction to search for reason within history."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Grenville’s extraordinary trilogy is a major achievement in Australian literature.”—Australian Book Review
“It is with often marvelous vividness and clarity that Grenville evokes Sarah’s world. . . . Through the eyes of this young woman, the physical and cultural strangeness of a nation still clambering into existence spring richly to life.”— The Guardian
"[An] exceptional historical novel, with mutilayered characters and a beautifully styled plot."—Publishers Weekly
"Grenville's Early Australia trilogy comes to a brilliant conclusion. . . . Lovingly detailed . . . Full of fascinating characters."—Booklist
“Sarah Thornhill displays [Grenville’s] gift for creating character full blaze. . . . A great work of truth . . . What unfolds is a box of surprises, richly wrapped in language so colorful and lively, you can taste it. . . . You believe in [Sarah’s] honesty, her perceptiveness, her way of ‘reading’ others. . . . A wonderful novel.”—The Scotsman
"Beautifully written and engrossing."—The Mail on Sunday (4 stars)
"I was thrilled to find myself back beside the river I’d come to know so well in The Secret River.The power with which Kate Grenville evokes places and people is so remarkable that I could remember the smell of the air there—and it was no surprise to discover that Sarah Thornhill’s story is as gripping and illuminating as her father’s was."—Diana Athill
“[A] powerful saga of colliding histories [that] blends romance and honesty.”—The Independent (Ireland)
“A moving piece of fiction . . . Powerfully realized . . . Sarah Thornhill is the book of a writer of the first rank. . . . A haunting performance.”—The Age (Australia)
“A beguiling love story . . . The voice of illiterate Sarah is Grenville’s great triumph. . . . An imaginatively convincing recreation of history and a celebration of country tenderly and beautifully observed, but above all it is a powerful plea for due acknowledgement and remembrance of the veils of the past.”—Adelaide Advertiser
"[A] captivating tale of a woman's fight to find an identity of her own in a 'new' colony. [Grenville's] wonderful account shows how hard it can be simply to be yourself. . . . A deeply moving conclusion to a romantic but by no means sentimental story."—The Telegraph
“Revisits the fascinating, trouble territory of the history wars. . . . Grenville’s vivid fiction performs as testimony, memory, and mourning within the collective post-colonial narrative.”—The Australian
“This is a beautiful book, one that pulses with insight and compassion . . . Grenville’s descriptions are a delicate fretwork of words. . . . Not only is Sarah Thornhill gorgeously written, but the love story at its heart is as real and true as it is unexpected. This is a novel that will be treasured by generations to come. It is that rare book that manages to wholly engage both head and heart. Grenville has done a splendid job.”—The Canberra Times
"Grenville's great strength is her sensual fleshing-out of the past. . . . Her vision of our colonial history is at once compelling and fable-like, as she writes contemporary white self-knowledge back into it."—The Monthly (Australia)
“[A] beautifully crafted historical reimagining.”—New Zealand Listener
“A strong and disturbing narrative.”—Sydney Morning Herald
"[Grenville had] a gift for eminently readable narrative. . . . Touching, truthful, and beautifully written, Sarah Thornhill exposes us to sickening events in early colonial Australia that may well have happened, and should never be forgotten. A must read."—Booktrust