Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville

A few thoughts on Sarah Thornhill:

I wrote about the opening paragraphs of this book in a Book Beginnings post; paragraphs that made me want to read on with promise of a good story. And that is what I got – it’s basically a love story set in 19th century Australia, where the convicts, transported or ‘sent out‘ are  now called ‘old colonists‘.

There is prejudice – some people, those who had ‘come free‘,  thought being ‘sent out‘ meant you were tainted for all time, but for others having money and land overcame their distaste. And then there is the prejudice about the ‘blacks’. When Sarah, the daughter of William Thornhill, an ‘old colonist’ and now a landowner on the Hawkesbury River, falls in love with Jack Langland, whose mother was a native woman, racial prejudice and hatred rear their ugly heads.

I loved this book, which kept me captivated from start to finish, as the secrets of the Thornhill family are brought to light. I liked the narrative, told in Sarah’s voice, that of an uneducated young woman, struggling to understand what had happened and why. I found the dialogue convincing, and I could visualise the landscape and the hardships of life in that place and time. I was also totally involved with the characters, all of which made the book come alive for me.

I think it stands well alone, but it is the sequel to The Secret River and it does reveals a significant part of that book, so be aware of that if you haven’t read The Secret River.

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