book cover

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

About the book

London, 1806 – 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. Soon Thornhill, a man no better or worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life . . . The Secret River is a universal and timeless story of love, identity and belonging.

Reviewed by Sandy’s Reading Group:

We felt the book gave us an understanding of how harsh life was for the poor, both in London and Australia. However, we felt that generally the characters lacked depth and were therefore difficult to care about, other than Thornhill to some extent. Informative, but failed to engage.

Star rating: **

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4 thoughts on “The Secret River by Kate Grenville”

  1. Review by Fleet U3A Reading Group:
    An excellent read. The novel depicts the life of William Thornhill from his early lift of poverty in London, his life of petty crime and ultimate capture and sentence of transportation for life to Australia in the early 1800s. The book charts the difficulties early convicts/settlers had during the first years of colonisation and the impact their arrival had on the aboriginal peoples. A well drawn novel.
    Star rating: ***

  2. Review by CC Readers Reading Group:
    Overall the book was enjoyed – the writing was good, it was an ‘easy’ read. Criticisms included sketchy characterisation, some odd leaps in the plot and unexplained outcomes. However it excited interest in Australia’s history and its people.
    Star rating: ***

  3. Review by Basingstoke afternoon WI Reading Group
    Brilliant book, well written and very interesting subject, good characterisation, lovely central relationship. Thought provoking and generated a long and varied discussion.
    Rating: ****

  4. A prize winning book that is not only informative but also a jolly good read. Grenville tackles so many aspects of life in early 19th century London and Australia that it should be a mish-mash but it isn’t. Through the Thornhill family we get a fascinating glimpse of life in early Australia, warts and all. Much discussion was generated and everyone enjoyed the book.
    4 Stars

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