Sarah Thornhill (Grenville) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
It is with often marvelous vividness and clarity that Grenville evokes Sarah’s world.... Through the eyes of this young woman, the physical and cultural strangeness of a nation still clambering into existence spring richly to life.
Guardian (UK)


Sarah Thornhill displays [Grenville’s] gift for creating character full blaze.... A great work of truth.... What unfolds is a box of surprises, richly wrapped in language so colorful and lively, you can taste it.... You believe in [Sarah’s] honesty, her perceptiveness, her way of ‘reading’ others.... A wonderful novel.
Scotsman


Grenville’s extraordinary trilogy is a major achievement in Australian literature.
Australian Book Review


A moving piece of fiction.... Powerfully realized.... Sarah Thornhill is the book of a writer of the first rank.... A haunting performance.
Age (Australia)


A powerful saga of colliding histories [that] blends romance and honesty.
Independent (Ireland)


A beguiling love story.... The voice of illiterate Sarah is Grenville’s great triumph.... An imaginatively convincing recreation of history and a celebration of country tenderly and beautifully observed, but above all it is a powerful plea for due acknowledgement and remembrance of the veils of the past.
Adelaide Advertiser


Revisits the fascinating, trouble territory of the history wars.... Grenville’s vivid fiction performs as testimony, memory, and mourning within the collective post-colonial narrative.
Australian


This is a beautiful book, one that pulses with insight and compassion.... Grenville’s descriptions are a delicate fretwork of words.... Not only is Sarah Thornhill gorgeously written, but the love story at its heart is as real and true as it is unexpected. This is a novel that will be treasured by generations to come. It is that rare book that manages to wholly engage both head and heart. Grenville has done a splendid job.
Canberra Times


Grenville's great strength is her sensual fleshing-out of the past.... Her vision of our colonial history is at once compelling and fable-like, as she writes contemporary white self-knowledge back into it.
Monthly (Australia)


A captivating tale of a woman's fight to find an identity of her own in a "new" colony. [Grenville's] wonderful account shows how hard it can be simply to be yourself.... A deeply moving conclusion to a romantic but by no means sentimental story.
Telegraph (UK)


A wrenching conclusion to a tough-hearted trilogy about the colonizing of Australia…With characters whose pasts are as dark and broken as these, it's impossible to trust the local settlers' favorite claim: "Never looked back." In fact, the members of this crew are always looking over their shoulders, sometimes to their detriment. And because of that, Sarah Thornhill is a novel that can't be easily categorized—exuberant, cruel, surprising, a triumphant evocation of a period and a people filled with both courage and ugliness.
Susann Cokal - New York Times Book Review


Sarah Thornhill, the youngest daughter of a wealthy yet provincial British ex-convict, grows up in 19th-century Australia learning not to ask questions about her family's past. When Sarah falls in love with a local man whose mother was Aboriginal, her chance at happiness is shattered by the racial and class prejudice churning within her family and Australia's burgeoning white society.... Verdict: Grenville concludes the Thornhill family saga and her exploration of Australian history begun in The Secret River, winner of the Commonwealth Prize and shortlisted for the Man Booker, and continued in The Lieutenant. This is a more subdued but equally exceptional historical novel, with multilayered characters and a beautifully styled plot. Fans of literary fiction will clamor for this final volume. —Kelsy Peterson, Prairie Village, KS
Library Journal


The saga of the Thornhill clan in early-19th-century Australia concludes in the final volume of Commonwealth Writer's Prize winner Grenville's (The Secret River, 2006, etc.) trilogy. Sarah Thornhill is the youngest daughter of William Thornhill, a man "sent out" from England in 1806 to New South Wales. Years later, with Sarah on the cusp of womanhood, Thornhill has become a prosperous river freighter, landowner and landlord... While the story is fictional, the book instructs on Australia's early history: the land; the wealth to be made from sheep, seals and whales; the conflict between those who had "worn the broad arrow," arriving as convicts, and those who came from proper society; and the oppressive and often bloody relationship between white settlers and the aboriginal people, termed "blacks." .... Beautifully written, with sufficient backstory to be enjoyed without first reading the previous two installments, this novel can be read as a dissection of a cultural clash or an allegory for colonialism, but at heart, the novel uses fiction to search for reason within history.
Kirkus Reviews




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