Sarah Thornhill

Sarah Thornhill

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by Kate Grenville
     
 

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In the final book of a trilogy that began with her bestselling novel, The Secret River, Commonwealth Prize–winner Kate Grenville returns to the youngest daughter of the Thornhills and her quest to uncover, at her peril, the family’s hidden legacy.

Sarah is the youngest child of William Thornhill, the pioneer at the center of The Secret

Overview

In the final book of a trilogy that began with her bestselling novel, The Secret River, Commonwealth Prize–winner Kate Grenville returns to the youngest daughter of the Thornhills and her quest to uncover, at her peril, the family’s hidden legacy.

Sarah is the youngest child of William Thornhill, the pioneer at the center of The Secret River. Unknown to her, her father—an uneducated ex-convict from London—has built his fortune on the blood of Aboriginal people. With a fine stone house and plenty of money, Thornhill has re-invented 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 destined, 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 of astonishing turmoil.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…a wrenching conclusion to a tough-hearted trilogy about the colonizing of Australia…With characters whose pasts are as dark and broken as these, it's impossible to trust the local settlers' favorite claim: "Never looked back." In fact, the members of this crew are always looking over their shoulders, sometimes to their detriment. And because of that, Sarah Thornhill is a novel that can't be easily categorized—exuberant, cruel, surprising, a triumphant evocation of a period and a people filled with both courage and ugliness.
—Susann Cokal
From the Publisher

—Winner of the Australia General Fiction Book the Year Award (Sydney Writers' Festival)
—Short-listed for the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction

"Both brilliant fiction and illuminating personal history."—The Independent

“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

"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

"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

“Grenville’s extraordinary trilogy is a major achievement in Australian literature.”—Australian Book Review

“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] powerful saga of colliding histories [that] blends romance and honesty.”—The Independent (Ireland)

“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

“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] 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

“[A] beautifully crafted historical re-imagining.”—New Zealand Listener

“A strong and disturbing narrative.”—Sydney Morning Herald

Library Journal
Sarah Thornhill, the youngest daughter of a wealthy yet provincial British ex-convict, grows up in 19th-century Australia learning not to ask questions about her family's past. When Sarah falls in love with a local man whose mother was Aboriginal, her chance at happiness is shattered by the racial and class prejudice churning within her family and Australia's burgeoning white society. Although Sarah eventually finds a new path for her life, she continues to feel haunted by her youthful love affair, somehow knowing that understanding it will provide a key to her past. When she finally uncovers the truth about her country's tragic history and her father's brutal past, she is determined to make amends with those affected by his actions. VERDICT Grenville concludes the Thornhill family saga and her exploration of Australian history begun in The Secret River, winner of the Commonwealth Prize and shortlisted for the Man Booker, and continued in The Lieutenant. This is a more subdued but equally exceptional historical novel, with multilayered characters and a beautifully styled plot. Fans of literary fiction will clamor for this final volume. [See Prepub Alert, 12/5/11.]—Kelsy Peterson, Prairie Village, KS
Kirkus Reviews
The saga of the Thornhill clan in early-19th-century Australia concludes in the final volume of Commonwealth Writer's Prize winner Grenville's (The Secret River, 2006, etc.) trilogy. Sarah Thornhill is the youngest daughter of William Thornhill, a man "sent out" from England in 1806 to New South Wales. Years later, with Sarah on the cusp of womanhood, Thornhill has become a prosperous river freighter, landowner and landlord of Thornhill's Point along the Hawkesbury River. Sarah's voice illuminates the tale, a voice true to a woman left illiterate in a time when land and sheep were treasured more than learning from a book. While the story is fictional, the book instructs on Australia's early history: the land; the wealth to be made from sheep, seals and whales; the conflict between those who had "worn the broad arrow," arriving as convicts, and those who came from proper society; and the oppressive and often bloody relationship between white settlers and the aboriginal people, termed "blacks." The latter element provides the fundamental conflict within the novel, with Sarah falling in love with Jack Langland, a neighbor's half-aboriginal son and sailing partner of Sarah's older brother. Because of an ugly family secret, revealed only to Jack by Sarah's abusive stepmother, marriage between the two is impossible. Instead Sarah marries John Daunt, a wealthy Irishman, who owns a sheep farm out near the Limit of Location. When Sarah is sent word that her father is dying, she travels to Thornhill's Point and learns the secret that kept Jack from marrying her. "Once you knew, there was no way to not know." Jack soon returns from New Zealand, where he's married a Maori woman, and asks Sarah to fulfill an obligation that might lead to a measure of reconciliation. Beautifully written, with sufficient backstory to be enjoyed without first reading the previous two installments, this novel 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802194459
Publisher:
Canongate U.S.
Publication date:
06/05/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
296,064
File size:
343 KB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A wrenching conclusion to a tough-hearted triology . . . Grenville shies away from nothing. . . . Exuberant, cruel, surprising, a triumphant evocation of a period and a people filled with both courage and ugliness."—The New York Times Book Review

"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

“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

Meet the Author


Kate Grenville's works of fiction include The Secret River, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book and short listed for the Man Booker Prize, and The Idea of Perfection, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in Sydney.

Visit her website at kategrenville.com

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Sarah Thornhill 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book brings Australian history to life...3rd part of a trilogy. #1 & #3 are especially good. Don't miss these books!