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Listened to this before a vacation to Australia. Loved hearing the historical fiction and feeling a bit more connected to the area.
This is a most fascinating and moving story set around the time of England colonising Australia with the First Fleet. Based largely on the diaries of a young scholarly officer Dawes, the book starts with glimpses of the snobbery and bullying of the British class system in England and moves onto their settlement of a penal colony in New South Wales.
Kate Grenville writes a sensitive and griping story, the characters are portrayed in such a way that I could see it all happening and wanted to know what would happen next. The narration by Nicholas Bell is excellent. I found the story spell binding. I live in Sydney and to me it was particularly fascinating as for too long the harsh reality of what happened has been kept hushed up with official historical versions. At the same time Kate Grenville balances the harshness with the strong human spirit of a few characters who seek to care and respect others a fair manner against the odds.
I could picture this young officer setting up his hut separate from the settlement at the place we now know as Dawes Point (right beside where Sydney Harbour Bridge now stands) a most beautiful area of Sydney harbour. I am looking forward to my next Kate Grenville novel and I hope that she will write many more. A great read. Highly recommended.
Having read Grenville's secret River I wa expecting more of the same with this book, but that was not the case. This book is far more factual and therfeore perhaps a bit dry - however, it is well written with strong characters that are easy to relate to. It describes beautifully the joy and fear from both the Aboriginal people and Rooke as they discover more about each other, and awakening of understanding even without language. Also, the sheer arrogance and stupidity of so called civilised white men as they clumsily attempt to 'help' the indigenous people. The ending seemed a little rushed compared with the pace of the rest of the book and left a few unaswered questions, I would like to have known a liitle more about Rooke's life after Australia and his work with slave emancipation.
This is a novel about communication, friendship, self discovery and the conflict between integrity and duty. It really has been beautifully written.
This may seem a little slow to start but it is well worth persevering as it develops into a truly engaging story that will leave you thinking about man and his ego, but also the wonder that is human diversity.
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what a great story. the true story should be taught in history class in early high school, and this book in English. very well written.