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Description - The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

In 1787 Lieutenant Thomas Rooke sets sail from Portsmouth with the First Fleet and its cargo of convicts, destined for New South Wales. As a young officer and a man of science, the shy and quiet Rooke is full of anticipation about the natural wonders he might discover in this strange land on the other side of the world. After the fleet arrives in Port Jackson, Rooke sets up camp on a rocky and isolated point, and starts his work of astronomy and navigation. It's not too long before some of the Aboriginal people who live around the harbour pay him a visit. One of them, a girl named Tarunga, starts to teach him her own language. But her lessons and their friendship are interrupted when Rooke is given an order that will change his life forever. Inspired by the 1790 notebooks of William Dawes in which he recorded his conversations with a young Gadigal woman, The Lieutenant is a story about a man discovering his true self in extraordinary circumstances. This powerful novel will enthral readers of Kate Grenville's bestselling The Secret River, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781921656767
ISBN-10: 192165676X
Format: Paperback / softback
(194mm x 131mm x 20mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: The Text Publishing Company
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publish Date: 25-Oct-2010
Country of Publication: Australia

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The Lieutenant


Book Reviews - The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

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Book Review: Lieutenant by Kate Grenville - Reviewed by (11 May 2011)

Kate Grenville’s latest novel, “The Lieutenant” is a beautifully crafted work. The Lieutenant in question, Daniel Rooke, is based on William Dawes, a soldier in His Majesty’s Marine Force on the First Fleet which arrived in Sydney Cove in 1788. Dawes accompanied the First Fleet as an astronomer, to record the predicted reappearance of a comet in late 1788/early 1789. The story is thus based on historical events: Grenville fills in the blanks of everyday life around these events in a way that makes the historical facts a pleasure to assimilate. Whilst waiting alone in his observatory for the comet to appear, the lieutenant interacts with the indigenous population, his intention being to make a study of the native language. This interaction with the natives, in general, and his friendship with a young girl, in particular, appears to be a pivotal point in Rooke’s life. Subsequent events prompt Rooke to re-evaluate his priorities and lead him to the conclusion that “…the service of humanity and the service of His Majesty were not congruent”. Grenville’s skill is such that we cannot help but feel empathy with the young Rooke from the very first page. Her characters are realistic, although Silk is perhaps not what he first appears to be. The dialogue takes us very effectively back to the 18th century. Grenville conveys the feel of the place and the time with consummate ease. This is a novel about language and communication, solitude and loneliness, duty and integrity. Grenville explores friendship, truth, a man’s place in the universe. And what is worth risking one’s career or even one’s life for. The end leaves a lump in the throat. What a pleasure this novel was to read. Let us hope for more from Kate Grenville soon.


Author Biography - Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville is one of Australia's finest writers. She won the Orange Prize in 2001 for The Idea of Perfection. The Secret River, published in more than twenty countries, was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and was shortlisted for both the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Man Booker Prize. The Lieutenant was shortlisted for the New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australian Premiers' Awards.

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