The Secret River
An essay by Abbi Arash
The Secret River by Kate Grenville has won the Commonwealth Writers Prize, New South Wales Literary Award, Australian Book Industry Award, The Age Book of the Year Award, The Booksellers Choice Award, and many, many more. Grenville has turned her attention to historical fiction, and binds a beautiful authentic novel that captivates readers all around the world through the vast range of ideologies, themes and concerns explored in the narrative to position the common reader to have a contemporary understanding of Australia's history. However, what makes The Secret River such a big hit? It is a narrative whose outlines every Australian knows already. The novel is an accurate portrait of how two civilisations, unable to stand in each other's shoes, can reach a position where they are aggressive towards each other, purely because they cannot look out of each other's eyes. With the backbone of the novel relying on Australia's cruel past, the novel is intricately bound with Grenville's evocative style, structure, conventions and form that allow the reader to have a just understanding of the past that has affected this country and still affects this country today.
Through this, a powerful novel is produced that engages the reader from start to finish.
In detail, The Secret River is the story of poverty-stricken Thames waterman William Thornhill, who is convicted to hang for the theft of Brazil wood. Thornhill escapes the hanging only to be transported to New South Wales with his wife Sal and children, forced to build a life from the foundations of hard work but to also adapt with events that lead towards the mistreatment and genocide of Aboriginals, who are the rightful owners of the Australian land. This has been concerned through the themes of the novel, which...