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From the beginning Jack and I was friends. Somehow our way of looking at things fitted together. He never called me Dolly, the way the others did, only my full and proper name.
Sarah Thornhill is the youngest child of William Thornhill, convict-turned-landowner on the Hawkesbury River. She grows up in the fine house her father is so proud of, a strong-willed young woman who’s certain where her future lies. She’s known Jack Langland since she was a child, and always loved him. But the past is waiting in ambush with its dark legacy.
There’s a secret in Sarah’s family, a piece of the past kept hidden from the world and from her. A secret Jack can’t live with. A secret that changes everything, for both of them.
Kate Grenville takes us back to the early Australia of The Secret River and the Thornhill family. This is Sarah’s story. It’s a story of tangled secrets, a story of loss and unlooked-for happiness, and a story about the silent spaces of the past. This powerful novel will enthrall readers of Kate Grenville’s bestselling The Secret River, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
Listen to Kate’s interview with ABC Radio.
Listen as Kate shares what Sarah Thornhill means to her in an interview with James O'Loghlin on ABC Radio.
Watch Kate Grenville on the First Tuesday Book Club’s Meet the Author segment.
Watch Kate Grenville talk about writing historical fiction in a panel discussion with Ron Rash, Javier Cercas and Jenny Erpenbeck at Adelaide Writers Week, courtesy of ABC’s Big Ideas program.
‘exuberant, cruel, surprising, a triumphant evocation of a period and a people filled with both courage and ugliness.’
‘A deeply satisfying historical novel that does not shy away from issues that continue to be relevant today. It’s also a great love story.’
‘While Sarah Thornhill is billed as a sequel, anyone who hasn’t already read The Secret River should not be put off. This is a novel that stands by itself and that will be treasured, I’m sure, by generations to come. It is that rare book that manages to wholly engage both head and heart, and it’s a long time since I’ve been quite so sorry to say goodbye to a character at the end of a book as I was saying goodbye to Sarah. Grenville has done a splendid job here, and anyone who loved The Secret River will not be disappointed by Sarah Thornhill.’
‘Grenville’s vivid fiction performs as testimony, memory and mourning, within this collective, post-colonial narrative.’
‘A beguiling love story…The voice of illiterate Sarah, in which the whole story is told, is Grenville’s great triumph…The book is a moving double love story – of a wild, romantic love and a slower, more mature, developing variety – 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…We may not be able to change the actions of the past the gave us this country, Grenville says through charismatic Sarah Thornhill, but if we are not at least mindful of them we are no better than fools or accomplices.’
‘Sarah Thornhill is the book of a writer of the first rank and there are plenty of things in it that are powerfully realised and that touch the heart…she is a gift of a writer…a haunting performance.’
‘If you read just one Australian novel this year, make it this one. Sarah Thornhill is a powerful story simply told…As a heroine, Sarah is an admirable addition to the list of Kate Grenville’s characters, and her intellectual journey could be a blueprint for all Australians…Sarah Thornhill is a must-read, if only as a motivation to re-examine Australia’s white history.’
‘Sarah Thornhill is a beautifully told story of early Australia and the triumphs and struggles of its convicts, free settlers and aborigines.’
‘From page one, the voice of Sarah Thornhill transports us to 1880, to Kate Grenville’s beloved Hawksbury River. Grenville is the best of history teachers, light of touch with no interesting rock left unturned.’
‘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.’