18/100: Kate Grenville - The Secret River
(2005, Text Publishing)
(Book 18/100 for 2012)
It's been a while since I updated this blog and since I read this book - over a whole month in fact! My apologies - I started uni (coincidentally) a month ago and my life has been far too hectic for blogging. But I have been reading, and there's a lot to catch up on. I'm sick in bed today so I'm going to do my best to get back on track.
The Secret River was a pretty easy read, but definitely worthy. If you have convict ancestry, I'd recommend it - I'm in the queue at the library for the sequel, Sarah Thornhill, and I am looking forward to reading it. My mother's family has been Australian since Owen McBranty arrived in Sydney from Ireland 203 years ago; for a country only 224 years old that's a pretty impressive pedigree!
The bits that deal with the English treatment of the local Aborigines make for difficult reading, though. I've studied a lot of Tasmanian colonial history (though I don't know much about Sydney) and I'm sure what Grenville describes is all based on fact. It's all pretty horrible.
I know Australia used to be ashamed of its convict past. The Secret River goes a long way to show that our ancestors weren't thugs or hardened criminals - like William Thornhill, they were mostly good people who made mistakes and were redeemed in their new homeland.