Wednesday evenings are good; I often spend them watching TV or surfing the net, or both. Wednesday is the last teaching day of the week for me this term, which means I don’t have to spend the evening preparing or reading up on the material I’m teaching. I like it when everyone is gone to bed except for me, to be on my own, pottering about, reading or writing a blog, for instance. Now I’m listening to Cecilia Bartoli sing Vivaldi and decided to write something here. I’ve had an evening of telephone conversations also, with my dad and two of my brothers. My mother’s in a bad way, but I won’t go into that here; it would upset me. I was upset enough when I visited her last Sunday. Those of you who know what that’s all about will understand.
Driving in to work or taking the bus, walking somewhere, or even washing the dishes: all these are good for listening to audiobooks. I’ve managed to finish another book in just over a week now: Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville, an Australian writer. Some years back I read another of Grenville’s novels, The Secret River, which is a prequel to Sarah Thornhill (though they can also stand on their own). I did write about it on my old blog page but cannot for the life of me find the entry now.
Anyways, I quite like Sarah Thornhill and would recommend it, especially if you are interested in historical fiction that takes place in Australia. However, The Secret River is better so you should start with that.
Below is my Goodreads review of Sarah Thornhill. Hope you like it.
Having read the excellent prequel by Grenville, The Secret River, I was not exactly expecting a story like this one; a story which is for the greater part focused on a romance between the titular character and Jack Langland, half-white and half aborigine Australian. For a while I found myself wondering in what manner Grenville meant this story of childhood and teenage romance, then secret love-affair,to shed light on the tragedies and racial tensions underlying the colonial society of Australia. However, after the crisis and the heartache, when Sarah and Jack are forced to part (I say no more so as to avoid spoilers), the story begins to take a new direction. By doing so, its quality and appeal is enhanced (though I would say that being rather short compared to many novels of today is also a great plus).
Ultimately, Sarah Thornhill turns into a very interesting coming-of-age story that is also a serious exploration of the hidden legacy of Australia’s colonial past. Although I agree with those Goodreads reviewers who complain that Grenville could have made more out of the story of Rachel, Sarah’s mixed-blood niece, this episode in the novel is nevertheless a poignant statement on how easily a people’s identity can be erased and reinvented by the “other” (in this case the white colonialists), on how a person’s own native language can be silenced, and how the stripping away of identity and sense of belonging can prove utterly damaging. The overarching message is really how utterly wrong it is to inflict such damage, and how generations of white Australians – even if ignorant of the disturbing legacy of colonialists’ treatment of indigenous people – have been tainted by that deed.