Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

DATE PUBLISHED: 2009 DATE READ: January 2009 NOTES: Kate Grenville’s The Secret River is a brilliant book so I was really looking forward to her latest. The Lieutenant is set in the 1900s. Socially awkward Daniel Rooke (probably on the spectrum for autism) is from a humble background but is brilliant at mathematics. He becomes interested in astronomy and is encouraged by the Astronomer Royal. He joins the navy and travels to New South Wales with 1000 prisoners to set up a colony. His friend in the navy, Silk, is a would-be writer who sees all experiences as ‘copy’. Silk is outgoing and confident and quite different to the thoughtful Daniel. The book is extremely well researched – especially on the languages of the native people of Australia. She manages to convey some concepts through the eyes of the natives (such as the ‘justice’ of the white man whipping the thief). I liked the characters and the first part of the narrative. She is very sympathetic to the indigenous people and their part in the story is told sensitively. But the book seemed to come to an abrupt end which was not very satisfying. A pleasant read but ultimately disappointing, I am sorry to say.

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