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The Secret River

By: Kate Grenville
Narrated by: Paul Blackwell
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Publisher's Summary

In 1806 William Thornhill, a man of quick temper and deep feelings, is transported from the slums of London to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife, Sal, and their children he arrives in a harsh land he cannot understand. But the colony can turn a convict into a free man. Eight years later Thornhill sails up the Hawkesbury to claim 100 acres for himself.

Aboriginal people already live on that river. And other recent arrivals - Thomas Blackwood, Smasher Sullivan, and Mrs Herring - are finding their own ways to respond to them. Thornhill, a man neither better nor worse than most, soon has to make the most difficult choice of his life.

©2005 Kate Grenville (P)2005 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Producer: Heather Steen.

Critic Reviews

" The Secret River is a powerful, highly credible account of how a limited man of good instincts becomes involved in enormity and atrocity. It is, at one remove, a sane and moving allegory of Australian development. It has quiet drama and drama of the hectic ghastly breakneck kind. It would make a fine film. It has the subtlety of being a sort of Swiss Family Robinson saga about the Australian dream. In historical terms it dramatises the settler's dream and it all but climaxes in its representation of the Australian nightmare. Then there is calm and sadness and the colour drained from the dream. The Secret River is a historical novel, full of contemporary insight and it is also a subtle expression in fictional terms of the myth of collective guilt for the fate of the Aborigines. It is to Kate Grenville's credit that she never surrenders her sense of the individual faces she captures as she tells this story. I suspect a lot of [listeners] are going to find this book both subtle and satisfying." ( The Age)
"One of the most entertaining, accomplished, engaging novels written in this country." ( The Courier Mail)

What listeners say about The Secret River

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful vivid story telling!

Beautifully written and evocative Grenville has imagined us into the past. If you fancy a visit to early nineteenth century London, the penal colony of New South Wales and wondered what it must have been like to be a convict, an early settler on the Hawksbury River and whatever happened to the indigenous Australians who had lived there for many thousands of years; read this book! Sympathetic, complex and courageous writing. Highly recommended.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written and read

Where does The Secret River rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is up there with the best

Which character – as performed by Paul Blackwell – was your favourite?

I liked all the characters. Paul made them believable. His early settler accents were wonderful.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

As an Australian it made me feel horrified at the treatment of Aboriginal Australians by not only the Government of the day but by the populace. Heart wrenching stuff.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Australiana

An engaging story that seemed to rush to a rather vague ending.
I felt like it never quite made its message clear so was left feeling a little incomplete. The narration was very enjoyable. Overall a good read.

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5 people found this helpful

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  • Ben
  • 07-10-2020

great australian historical fiction

a fictional story of one of the first settlers, william, during the early 1800's. following his tale from the thames to the hawksbury. superficially the protagonist is everything you want in a lead character until he commits a terrible act against the indigenous population. it's a great snap shot of a fiction that would have a thread of truth through so many of the first white settlers. this tickled my historical and racial curiousity bones.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Terrific

An embarrassing recount of Australia’s past atrocities, even being a fictional tale. As an Australian I feel legitimately ashamed of all the things that settlers committed but this story provides a good back story and so interesting!
Amazing storytelling!

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs
  • 15-12-2015

Superb book, beautifully read.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book. The narration is excellent and the book itself is moving, revealing and a explores a crucial and devastating part off Australia's history.

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2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not that interesting

Story wasn’t all that interesting. Pretty basic story telling and even though this was recorded not that long again, the recording quality is poor. You can hear dead air in the background and a change in the narration between chapters which was distracting.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling.

The narration was brilliantly done, and the story was breathtaking. I loved it. A must read for every Australian.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely enthralling.

Fantastic narration. A captivating story which explores a brutal new world that is colonial Australia.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The great Australian novel??

As close to the ‘great Australian novel’ as any fiction ever written - in terms of cultural significance and the quality of the writing.

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In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.