Having just received a yummy order from Amazon, I'm looking forward to the dark, cold days of Christmas - yes, changed my tune since Monday. But I haven't changed how I feel about it. When you live abroad you value the written word in your mother tongue even more. I do love the Italian language - oh if only I could speak it better, but it is quite an effort to read, listen and converse in a language that does not come naturally. So I have a mixture of new reading material, because I like to experiment with different styles. So I have a Ken Follett (never read any of his), Santa Montefiore and the first of Stephenie Myers' Twilight Saga. With those and a shelf full still to read I am feeling a sense of peace descending. By the way, I stumbled across another book selling site that may be an alternative to Amazon. The Book Depositary - I've tried to do a comparison, but its difficult, they don't charge for delivery but obviously add some cost to the book. Check it out...
The Secret River by Kate GrenvilleThis is an historical novel set in the early 19th century. It centres around the life of an Englishman who does not have the best start in life but works hard on the river as a boatman. He marries the daughter of his boss, and life is feeling rosy. But of course, this doesn't last and William Thornhill had to resort to desperate measures to keep his family fed. By now he has a small child and another on the way. He is caught thieving and sentenced to death by hanging. Now his crime doesn't seem to fit the punishment and his wife, Sal, writes to a man who pleads for a change of heart on Will's behalf. The upshot is that he is given a one way ticket to Australia, along with boardage for his wife and child.
It's amazing that Will and Sal survive the journey which takes almost 9 months and during this time Will's second son is born. Once in Australia, they wonder what they have exchanged their life (and the loss of Will's life) for. The majority of the story takes place here in Australia and displays the desire of man to measure success by the amount of land he owns. The story gently unfolds, showing us the lengths that the white man will go to secure this what is seen as a personal right. But of course they are disrupting the lives of the Aborigines and their land. At times, its quite difficult to comprehend how a bunch of criminals think they might have such a right, but these men could effectively wipe clean their slate and therefore start again. Some do it -like Will - with some respect, but others are no more than thugs. However, even Will is tested in terms of what actions he will take to secure his 'home'. And all through this time, wife Sal is having more babies and counting the days when she can go home to London.
It's a well told story, based a little on the true experiences of the authors ancestors. It is full of wonderful descriptions of Australia and its contrast with grey London. The dialogue is written in italics, which I found a little distracting, but it is a wonderful, simple tale, well told. I'm not sure about the title, I found it a little misleading but you make your own mind up. A great read.
Happy Writing (and Reading!)