Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2006.
London, 1807: 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.
The Thornhills arrive in a harsh and alien land that they do not understand and begin a life that feels like a death sentence. But among the convicts, there is a rumour that freedom can be bought - that "unclaimed" land up the Hawkesbury River offers an opportunity to start afresh. When William claims a hundred acres for himself, he is shocked to find Aboriginal people already living on the river - and that other recent arrivals are finding their own ways to respond to them. Soon William, a man neither better nor worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life.
"A very fine, albeit terrifying writer." (
"Kate Grenville is a writer of extraordinary talent." ( The New York Times)
"Grenville writes exactingly and with passion about the Australian landscape... The Secret River is a sad book, beautifully written and, at times, almost unbearable with the weight of loss." ( Observer)
"A 'belter of a reading' and Penny Jones 'brillantly captures the character of William Thornhill'." ( Daily Express)
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