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Winner, Commonwealth Writers' Prize, 2006
Winner, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Christina Stead Prize and Community Relations Award, 2006
Winner, Fellowship of Australian Writers' Christina Stead Award, 2006
Winner, Literary Fiction Book of the Year and Book of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards, 2006
Shortlisted, Miles Franklin Award, 2006
Shortlisted, Man Booker Prize, 2006

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 a hundred 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.

Inspired by research into her own family history, Kate Grenville vividly creates the reality of settler life, its longings, dangers and dilemmas. The Secret River is a brilliantly written book, a groundbreaking story about identity, belonging and ownership.

Praise for Kate Grenville and The Secret River:

‘When William Thornhill steps ashore in 1806, it’s as if no one has described the scene before him. Such is the power of Grenville’s imagination that everything seems newly minted.’


‘Fabulous historical fiction.’


‘A few sentences of Grenville’s makes one realize that much of the writing one encounters in a novel these days is thin and perfunctory. Reading The Secret River may put you off anything less accomplished for a while.’

Daily Express

‘One of the most entertaining, accomplished, engaging novels written in this country…We always knew Kate Grenville was good but this one is brilliant.’

Courier Mail

‘There is no doubt Grenville is one of our greatest writers… A book everyone should read. It is evocative, gracefully written, terrible and confronting. And it has resonance for every Australian.’

Sunday Mail

The Secret River is a wonderful novel that will change the way we think about our past…I couldn’t put it down.’

Diana Gribble, Reader

‘…a powerful, highly credible account of how a limited man of good instincts becomes involved in enormity and atrocity.’

Peter Craven, Age

‘Kate Grenville’s The Secret River stands out as a work of sustained power and imagination, of poetry and insight. No truer piece of fiction has been written about the Australian past.’

Peter Temple, Weekend Australian

‘Splendidly paced, passionate and disturbing.’

Salley Vickers, The Times

‘An outstanding study of cultures in collision…chilling, meticulous account of the sorrows and evils of colonialism.’

Saturday Guardian

‘A vivid and moving protrayal of poverty, struggle and the search for peace.’


‘…Grenville’s magnificent novel [is] an unflinching exploration of modern Australia’s origins.’

New Yorker

The Secret River is a masterwork, a book that transcends historical fiction and becomes something deeply contemporary and pressing.’

Chicago Tribune

‘Grenville’s powerful telling of this story is so moving, so exciting, that you’re barely aware of how heavy and profound its meaning is until you reach the end in a moment of stunned sadness.’

Washington Post

Kate Grenville


Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s finest writers. Her bestselling novel The Secret River has been published in more than twenty countries. It has received numerous awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and t… »

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  • RRP: $22.99
  • Pub date: 01/07/2005
  • ISBN: 9781921776403
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