This month the Group read Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville.
Sarah Thornhill is the youngest child of William Thornhill, convict-turned-landowner on the Hawkesbury River. She grows up in the fine house her father is so proud of, a strong-willed young woman who’s certain where her future lies. She’s known Jack Langland since she was a child, and always loved him. But the past is waiting in ambush with its dark legacy. There’s a secret in Sarah’s family, a piece of the past kept hidden from the world and from her. A secret Jack can’t live with…
Most of the group enjoyed the book. Some thought that the characters ‘did not speak to them’.
Many, who had read ‘The Secret River’, did not find this book as good. The first book was well researched and well written.
Sarah Thornhill reminded one reader of Mary in ‘The Potato Factory’. But having read ‘Sarah Thornhill’ before ‘The Secret River’ this may have influenced her.
The book brought out the alienation, dispossession, prejudice and the lack of empathy towards indigenous people. The themes of guilt and regret and the family rifts that were caused well portrayed. Some understood that the evil of William Thornhill could not ever be forgiven by his son, Dick.
The conclusion was quite abrupt and not very believable. The group admired Sarah and how difficult it would be to be an illiterate person.
I found the differences between the two Thornhill wives very interesting. In the Secret River, Sal did “look back” but the stepmother actively discouraged that. Also the differences between the sisters Sarah and Mary.
I thought the characters were believable and really liked the character of John Daunt – intelligent & educated but also compassionate and caring.
At times, Sarah’s voice was not always convincing and authentic, though it would be difficult to write in the “voice” of an illiterate person. I also thought that the conclusion happened very abruptly.
Glad I wasn’t an illiterate pioneer woman, I wouldn’t have survived.