I loved The Secret River.
The combination of family history, fiction, culture and historical revisionism was mesmorising. I enjoyed Grenville's blending of Aboriginal and colonial perspectives. She did so without judging or taking sides. She exposed the flaws and virtues of the various players equally.
One of the most memorable characters though was the Hawkesbury River itself. Grenville brought this area to life and I finished the book with this crazy urge to kayak the length of the river from mouth to source one day!
Sarah's story didn't capture me as completely as did The Secret River, however it was a marvellous and engaging read from start to finish.
Sarah Thornhill attempted to resolve the horror enacted in the first book as well as such horrors can ever be resolved. Grenville showed us how these horrors continue to reverberate through to modern times.
Sarah Thornhill shows us how the knowledge of what happened changes everything. Although Sarah had no involvement in the earlier horrors, her ignorance didn't spare her from the festering after effects. But with knowledge came the opportunity to repair, resolve and move forward.
Regardless of personal participation or knowledge we all share the history of what happened (and continues to happen) in our country. In light of the ongoing reconciliation process in our country and the current refugee debate, these are important ideas we should explore in our politics, our media and in our literature.