In 1806 William Thornhill, a man of quick temper and deep feelings, is transported from the slums of London to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and their children he arrives in a harsh land he cannot understand. But the colony can turn a convict into a free man.
Eight years later Thornhill sails up the Hawkesbury to claim a hundred acres for himself. Aboriginal people already live on that river. And other recent arrivals—Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan and Mrs Herring—are finding their own ways to respond to them.
Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, soon has to make the most difficult choice of his life.
Inspired by research into her own family history, Kate Grenville vividly creates the reality of settler life, its longings, dangers and dilemmas. The Secret River is a brilliantly written book, a groundbreaking story about identity, belonging and ownership.
Kate Grenville is one of Australia's most celebrated writers. Her bestselling novel The Secret River received the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. The Idea of Perfection won the Orange Prize. Grenville's other novels include Sarah Thornhill, The Lieutenant, Lilian's Story, Dark Places and Joan Makes History. Kate lives in Sydney and her most recent book is One Life: My Mother's Story.
'The Secret River is fabulous historical fiction, a rich and challenging re-imagining of familiar territory...a riveting, dramatic exercise in understanding.' Weekend Australian
'The Secret River is a wonderful novel that will change the way we think about our past...I couldn't put it down.' Diana Gribble, Reader
'A powerful, highly credible account of how a limited man of good instincts becomes involved in enormity and atrocity.' Peter Craven, Age
'Kate Grenville's The Secret River stands out as a work of sustained power and imagination, of poetry and insight. No truer piece of fiction has been written about the Australian past.' Peter Temple, Weekend Australian
'Splendidly paced, passionate and disturbing.' Salley Vickers, The Times UK
'An outstanding study of cultures in collision...chilling, meticulous account of the sorrows and evils of colonialism.' Saturday Guardian UK
'A vivid and moving protrayal of poverty, struggle and the search for peace.' Independent
'Grenville's magnificent novel [is] an unflinching exploration of modern Australia's origins.' New Yorker
'The Secret River is a masterwork, a book that transcends historical fiction and becomes something deeply contemporary and pressing.' Chicago Tribune
'Grenville's powerful telling of this story is so moving, so exciting, that you're barely aware of how heavy and profound its meaning is until you reach the end in a moment of stunned sadness.' Washington Post