Tag: Secret River

The Secret River by Kate Krenville

July 29th, 2010 — 2:35am

The Secret RiverIt is a well known fact that Australia was originally settled primarily by convicts who were shipped there by the Bristish government in the 18th and early 19th century. The Secret River puts a very personal face on what it might have meant to be one of the settlers who had his life reprieved from a hangman’s nose for stealing good to then be faced with a life sentence of exile in a barely inhabited land.

Even before we follow the protagonist of this novel William Thornhill and his wife and small child across the ocean to Australia, we are given insight in to the desperation which lead a hard working honest man to make stealing an everyday part of his life in order to prove a bare sustenance for his family. Particularly when your everyday life as  waterman boatman on the Thames River in London put you in contact with the gentleman gentry, we see how the dreams and aspirations of the poorest man can be seeds seed waiting to sprout if ever given the opportunity. Just as the Americans had its Indians who were here first, the Australians had its aborigines although the latter word was never used in this novel. They were usually referred with some variation of “ black”. They were usually a stealth group off in the woods. How the convict settlers tried to dehumanize them in order to justify to themselves their right to dominance over the land is a good part of psychological underpinning of this story.

Author Kate Krenville was apparently inspired to write this noel during her own exploration of studying the family journey of a distant relative. She appears to have mastered the history, the dialect as well as the interesting trials and tribulations, which her main character and his family might have experienced. The reader gets into their shoes and appreciates their struggle as they battle to hold on to their dreams and their values.

Comment » | FG - Fiction General, FH - Fiction Historical

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