Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

The book I am in the middle of reading and should finish tonight is set in Australia during the time when the convicts were being transported to settle the country. The book is a nicely done historical novel that vividly depicts the brutality inherent to the settling of Australia and the cruelty of the time but what the book really speaks to me about is the loss of things that can never be regained no matter what the struggles to overcome or change. Throughout the book, the protagonist struggles with the fact that his convict status has made it impossible for him to return to the country that his wife yearns for. Slowly he comes to realize that he could make a life for his family in this strange new land but his wife can't come to terms with the loss of her dream to return home. Eventually though, all dreams are fulfilled or die and I assume that by the end of the book, her dreams to return home will die or the dream will kill her.

Another theme is that nothing is free. The protagonist will have to pay for his dream in ways he doesn't anticipate. When he was a thief there was the understanding that eventually he would pay for what he took, perhaps with his life. In the same way he will pay for having his dream. This author's award winning novel is a comedy so someday, when I get to end of my giant pile of books, I want to read it as well. I have a feeling that this is one of those novels that will stick with me a long time and I am trying to decide if I should nominate it. Any thoughts?

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