When The Secret River, a novel about frontier violence in early Australia, appeared in 2005, it became an immediate bestseller—but it also caused controversy for its unflinching look at Australia’s history. It has since been published all over the world and translated into twenty languages. The follow-up novel, The Lieutenant, continued Grenville’s exploration of the story of first settlement and once again caused controversy in her homeland. Now Sarah Thornhill brings the trilogy to an emotionally explosive conclusion.
Sarah is the youngest daughter of William Thornhill, the pioneer at the centre of The Secret River. Unknown to her, her father—an illiterate ex-convict from London—has built his fortune on the blood of Aboriginal people. With a fine stone house and plenty of money, Thornhill is a man who’s reinvented himself. As he tells his daughter, he “never looks back,” and Sarah grows up learning not to ask about the past. Instead, her eyes are on handsome Jack Langland, whom she’s loved since she was a child. Their romance seems idyllic, destined, but the ugly secret in Sarah’s family is poised to ambush both of them.
With Sarah Thornhill, Grenville uses family history to tell a story about the past that’s also about the present and its dilemmas. Driven by the captivating voice of the illiterate Sarah—at once headstrong, sympathetic, curious and refreshingly honest—this is an unforgettable portrait of a strong and passionate woman caught up in a historical moment that has left an indelible mark on the present.