The Secret River

Kate Grenville

There was hardly a door, barely a wall: only a flap of bark, a screen of sticks and mud. There was no need of lock, of door, of wall: this was a prison whose bars were ten thousand miles of water
The Secret River by Kate Grenville (Paperback ISBN 9780857860842) book cover

Available as Paperback, eBook

Winner of the 2006 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize - reissued in a brand new package

London, 1806 - William Thornhill, happily wedded to his childhood sweetheart Sal, is a waterman on the River Thames. Life is tough but bearable until William makes a terrible mistake for which he and his family are made to pay dearly.

His sentence: to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. Soon Thornhill, a man no better or worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life…

The Secret River is a universal and timeless story of love, identity and belonging.


“A vivid evocation of the rawest kind of colonialism.”
Jem Poster
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“We have had to wait five years for The Secret River but the wait has been worth it….Splendidly paced, passionate and disturbing.”
the Times

“In one stroke the author captures both Sullivan’s emotional dependence and Will’s compassion. Will’s relationship with Sal is frequently fortified by such psychological insights. Their mutual awareness gives the couple a convincing weight as well as engaging the reader’s sympathy and deepening the narrative tension. By this stage, what started as a sumptuous historical with its brilliantly atmospheric depiction of Georgian London’s Stygian gloom, has developed into a profound journey of self discovery.”
independent On Sunday

“Winner of the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction with The Idea of Perfection, Grenville’s latest, beautifully written novel concerns William Thornhill, a 19th-century convict from London deported to Australia, where he staked a claim on ancient Aboriginal lands - with tragic consequences.”
financial Times

“Ambitious new novel… Grenville’s skill is to turn what could have been too obviously a representative moral fable into a rich novel of character.”
sunday Telegraph


Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s best-loved authors. Her works of fiction have won numerous awards both in Australia and internationally. The Idea of Perfection won the 2001 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and became a long-running bestseller. In 2006 The Secret River won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Searching For The Secret River, the story behind this novel, is also available from Canongate, alongside her first novel, Lilian’s Story, and The Lieutenant. Kate Grenville lives in Sydney.


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