The Thornhills arrive in this harsh and alien land, which feels like a death sentence. But among the convicts there is a rumour that freedom can be bought, that "unclaimed land" up the Hawkesbury offers an opportunity to start afresh, far away from the township of Sydney.
When William takes a hundred acres for himself he is shocked to find aboriginal people already living on the river. Soon Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life.
©2006 Kate Grenville; (P) BBC Audiobooks LTD
Friend referred me to this book...WOW. There are no wasted words in this story. First book that I have read by this author, and absolutely love her style. Also first time I've heard narration by Bill Wallis...could listen to him read the phonebook! Am only halfway through the story, but am sure that the rest will not disappoint.
This was an awesome read that made me wish i could jump into and explain to both sides what was going on such a small amount of understanding would have changed the course of history
This was a good story made even better by a fantastic narrator. I will be looking for other titles by this same performer
Excellent book and great narrator. I'm glad I opted to listen rather than read as the narrator brought the different characters to life very effectvely and highlighted Kate Grenville's wonderful 'voice' for the different protagonists.
A superb performance of Bill Wallis in addition to a riveting story and masterful writing.
Now I need to take a trip to Australia. Interesting insights to the early history of Australia. The challenges of the black/natives vs whiteman's rights are certainly thought provoking.
"A good summer read"
Picked up this book as part of Audible?s recommended Summer Reads and pleased to say it lived up to expectations. As an Australian living in London what appealed most was the evocative depiction of the two different worlds of William Thornhill and his family ? moving from his early days as a boatman on the Thames to carving a new life in New South Wales. Both worlds come alive in this book that is both a flowing narrative and a deeper examination of cultural conflict and human struggle. Bill Wallis? rich voice makes listening far better than reading.
"Superb book with the ideal reader"
The 'story' is gripping, and Bill Wallis' reading perfectly complements it. The sound flows like the river it describes.
"Beautifully written, beautifully read"
Beautifully written, beautifully read story. Very moving, tragic, confronting story about colonial settlement and violence against Aboriginal people in New South Wales, Australia. Reveals how different settlers/colonists/freed convicts interacted with the Indigenous community and the associated outcomes; highlights the violence perpetrated against the Indigenous population. The build-up to the shocking outcome(s) is well paced and engaging - well worth reading despite how distressing a story it is. A book that should be essential reading for every high school student in Australia.
Full of interesting historical detail that made you live the experience of the characters, an edge of suspense and exitement as well as a sympathetic narration of the effect of colonialism on the aboriginal australian. Very well written and narrated
"The Secret River"
This is an account of a Thames waterman who lives a respectable life until the Thames freezes and he can no longer work. He falls into abject poverty and, desperate to feed his wife and child, is caught stealing. The entire family then are transported to Australia and the story follows their life as they struggle to re-establish themselves in the harsh environment.
It is well-written and well- read. The details of the transportation, life of convicts and the attempts to set up on the land are very interesting. The native Australians at first assist them and then the settlers and the natives come into conflict.
My only criticism is that the last part of the book is rushed and this is when our family have to face decisions about who owns what and what they might be prepared to do to keep it. Interestingly one of their sons has befriended the local aborigine people and he greatly disapproves of his father's actions - only the actions are swept through. Having spent so much time on what came before I wanted this aspect to be explored more.
However this is well worth a listen.
"Enjoyable and informative"
I read this book for a book club, and I enjoyed it. Descriptions excellent of places and characters. Good read.
"The best writing, narrator and tale in years."
This has to be my book of the last 5 years. The narrator, Bill Wallis, was exceptional. The story of a hardworking Thames boatman being transported to Australia; eventually to become a landowner never became mawkishly sentimental. Every sentence seemed to contain a gem. The facts were laid out for the reader to decide on the rights and wrongs of theft, survival, penal colonies and racial prejudice. I have read many books about the early settlers and their integration into the harsh Australian climate but nothing has involved me or made me question my beliefs of fellow man in the way this book has. I sincerely wish that I could read this again for the first time. Fortunately I will be able to reread it many times.
"Heart of Darkness?"
It started well and I enjoyed the character development but if you're hoping for a light listen this is not it! Intense, oppressive and dark. An Australian Heart of Darkness, though that's not a novel that many people want to listen to/read twice, is it?
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