Searching for the Secret River

Searching for the Secret River

Kate Grenville / May 30, 2020
Searching for the Secret River Searching for the Secret River is a memoir about the writing of Kate Grenville s international bestseller The Secret River It tells the story of the research behind the novel from the transcript of G
  • Title: Searching for the Secret River
  • Author: Kate Grenville
  • ISBN: 9781921145391
  • Page: 357
  • Format: Paperback
  • Searching for the Secret River is a memoir about the writing of Kate Grenville s international bestseller, The Secret River.It tells the story of the research behind the novel from the transcript of Grenville s ancestor s trial at the Old Bailey in 1805, to the information that contemporary historians are uncovering about what happened on the Australian frontier It alsoSearching for the Secret River is a memoir about the writing of Kate Grenville s international bestseller, The Secret River.It tells the story of the research behind the novel from the transcript of Grenville s ancestor s trial at the Old Bailey in 1805, to the information that contemporary historians are uncovering about what happened on the Australian frontier It also takes the reader through the process of turning that research into living fiction the false starts, dead ends and failures as well as the strokes of luck, flashes of inspiration and surprises.It contains sections of personal memoir, the record of the research, and a journal of the evolution of the book from non fiction to novel It quotes sections of early drafts and compares them with the final version, and goes into some detail about technical issues such as point of view, voice and dialogue.For anyone interested in the writing process and in particular the writing of a historical novel Searching for the Secret River provides a unique behind the scenes exploration.The Secret River has proved to be a controversial book among Australian historians They feel that fiction is an untrustworthy mechanism by which to understand the past A novelist may alter, simplify or even distort the truth about history in ways the reader will not be aware of.Kate Grenville has always had the same reservations about historical fiction Even before The Secret River was completed, she was planning a book which would make transparent the process by which she d adapted the historical record for the purposes of fiction, and her reasons for the decisions she made.She says The subject matter of The Secret River is so important, and so politically charged, I didn t want readers to be able to say oh, it s only a novel she just made it all up The events and characters in the novel are adapted from the historical record These things really did happen on our frontier, even if at a slightly different time and in a different place I wanted readers to be able to retrace the journey I took in coming to terms with what I found about our history, and to see how I chose to adapt it for a novel Twenty years of teaching Creative Writing in universities, and three books about the writing process, were the other impetus for Searching for The Secret River Writing is such an enrichment of life whether or not it results in publication that I wanted to leave a record of my own process, so that others might not have to re invent the wheel completely, Grenville says Historical fiction has its particular challenges for the writer I would have loved to read a book like this one while I was writing The Secret River It would have made the process a little less laborious Searching for the Secret River has become a classic for book groups, students and writers looking for guidance.
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    About "Kate Grenville"

      • Kate Grenville

        Kate Grenville is one of Australia s best known authors She s published eight books of fiction and four books about the writing process Her best known works are the international best seller The Secret River, The Idea of Perfection, The Lieutenant and Lilian s Story details about all Kate Grenville s books are elsewhere on this site Her novels have won many awards both in Australia and the UK, several have been made into major feature films, and all have been translated into European and Asian languages.


    1. Reading The Secret River earlier this year was a profoundly moving experience, as was seeing the superb theatrical adaptation of the novel produced by the Sydney Theatre Company Together, the novel and the play spoke to me spoke to me about the colonial experience in New South Wales in a way that all of my other reading on this subject has failed to do It personalised the dilemmas faced by the new arrivals and the conflict between them and the indigenous people of the country It made those dilem [...]

    2. I really enjoyed The Secret River, and rated it five stars, so was intrigued by this book which covers the background and process of how it was researched and written And I wasn t disappointed I found this to be really fascinating In part one, the reader follows Kate Grenville as she initially begins researching her convict ancestor and his transportation to Australia, then realises that his claiming of land on the Hawkesbury River must have put him in conflict with the Aboriginal inhabitants of [...]

    3. I am searching for my own way to tell the story of my grandparents, so reading about Kate Grenville s search for her great great great grandfather and of how to tell his story, obviously resonated with me Most of us will know of her award winning book The Secret River It was made into an excellent two part mini series and has also been adapted for the stage This book tells the tale of how that book came into being.It follows the trajectory of the author s interest in her forebearer, through to r [...]

    4. I knew it After grinding through The Secret River, the impression I got from it was that it was that 1 Grenville put a crap load of research into the book, and 2 it was a personal story of sorts, and Searching for the Secret River confirms this To my mind, Grenville was too involved with the story to really be objective with it She talks about having to stop thinking of the main character in terms of who he was in real life he s a thinly disguised version of her own ancestor , and start looking [...]

    5. Kate Grenville is one of my favourite writers and I was bitterly disappointed when her novel The Secret River was passed over by the Miles Franklin judges It was a brave and beautiful book, exploring the mutual incomprehension and inevitable conflict that occurred when early Australian settlers encountered the indigenous people It was Grenville s first venture into historical fiction, and coming as it did in the middle of the so called History Wars, it was criticised for failing to be true histo [...]

    6. There s a passage in Kate Grenville s historic novel The Secret River that perfectly encapsulates the avarice that took over Australia s emancipated convicts In it, the protagonist gazes over a piece of coveted Aboriginal land He took off his hat with an impulse to feel the air around his head His own air That tree, its powdery bark flaking around the trunk his That tussock of grass, each coarse strand haloed by the sunlight his own What is surprising, on reading this making of book, is that the [...]

    7. This is a rewarding read, especially for the writer and or researcher Searching for The Secret River documents Kate Grenville s journey of discovering her great great great grandfather and of the satisfactions and frustrations of the writing process, as she grapples with the ways in which truth and fiction both conspire and inspire when bringing a text to life.Although the book isn t exactly a memoir or a writing guide, it fits both genres equally well.

    8. Having devoured The Secret River, I felt lucky to have this to hand I am always fascinated by other people s writing processes, and there were a number of things I really enjoyed about this book I felt a strong kinship with Kate s search among archives for pieces of information that would help her put together her story, having just done something similar for Shallow Breath I thought she did pretty well in not getting the book bogged in details that were probably fascinating to her but perhaps n [...]

    9. This is a wonderful and encouraging book about the journey towards a novel It took Kate Grenville five years to write The Secret River Searching for The Secret River describes what happened in those five years The Secret River wasn t going to be a novel at all in the beginning, but a memoir But slowly things begin to change and evolve always through her determination to stay with it and to discover Even when she realises, With a sinking heart how can I do this that I would have to create a whole [...]

    10. I read this book some time ago and absolutely loved reading about the process behind the novel.I was much amused, when she talks about researching her ancestor and she declares she s not one of those family, yes you are

    11. It is an quite honest memoire of Grenville s writing process of her MASTERPIECE The Secret River The memorandum reveals when and how she gets the inspiration and motivation of writing such a book, and the detailed efforts of her research It helps people to get a better understanding of her standpoint of writing The Secret River basically, after reading the memoire, I would agree that TSR is a whitewashing novel yet it also demonstrates her respect for the aboriginal people and their wisdom by no [...]

    12. Fantastic account of the research that went into The Secret River Well worth it as a follow up after finishing the novel.

    13. Read this memoir about the writing process as I read the novel The Secret River to which the memoir refers To stick with Searching, the writing easily flows The journey takes Grenville and the reader back in time and into the present She mentions the origin of The Secret River missing information about her great great great grandfather Solomon Wiseman and about his relationship with the indigenous peoples Were the Aborigines there or gone when Wiseman claimed and settled one hundred acres at a b [...]

    14. This is the story of author Kate Grenville s search for her family s ancestral history, starting in London and ending in Australia Her 3 great grandfather came to Australia as a convict She researched all of that as well as what the world in Australia was like at the time The result was her writing of the book, The Secret River, which is one of my favorites.Both The Secret River and Searching For the Secret River are excellent books a thorough look into Australian history, a look into culture cl [...]

    15. This a wonderful memoir about the the process of writing The Secret River Grenville origina ly intended to write her great novel as non fiction but felt she could convey the central themes better in fiction This book follows her research of her Ancestor Solomon Wiseman on whom the character of William Thornhill is based , her findings on early European Aboriginal relations in Australia and the actual writing process I found it fascinating and really gets to the heart of why stories like The Secr [...]

    16. An Austrailian author writes about a man from the slums of London who is pardoned from execution for theivery, only to be sent to Sydney, Austrailia for his punishment Life is extremely hard with his wife and children in the eight years he serves out his sentence When he is a free man, he claims 100 acres of wild, unsettled land that is already inhabited by aboriginal people who see this land as their own thus begins the atrocious struggles between the 2 groups of peoples It made me sick see how [...]

    17. This short review is also posted on my blog at inputs.wordpress 2009 03 1In this book the Australian writer Kate Grenville explains the process both in terms of research and creative composition that she went through in the writing of her award winning novel The Secret River.I am always interested in the mechanics of how writers actually produce their work and this makes for a fascinating read It shows that writing is by no means a breezily easy process I haven t read The Secret River, but genre [...]

    18. Excellent book based in part on the authors ancestors In 1806 William Thornhill, an illiterate English bargeman and a man of quick temper but deep compassion, steals a load of wood and, as a part of his lenient sentence, is deported, along with his beloved wife, Sal, to the New South Wales colony in what would become Australia The Secret River is the tale of William and Sal s deep love for their small, exotic corner of the new world, and William s gradual realization that if he wants to make a h [...]

    19. I loved this writing memoir since it gave me a lot insight into one of the best books I ve read this year The Secret River The latter is a historical novel, and this memoir explains how Kate Grenville came to write it It was based on the history of her own family, which she started researching In beginning to write, she found that the facts were getting in the way of the truth, so she fictionalised it I m glad I managed to find a second hand copy.

    20. Interesting read about the British convicts who were sent to colonize Australia in lieu of death sentences More specifically, about a convict and his family who are sent there and set up a life in the penal colony, but soon move into remote territory Even specifically, the tale of oblivious white people who settle in aboriginal territory and, consequently, cause major issues.

    21. Good easy read that encouraged me to keep trying with my own writing Interesting how much research of detail went into the book and how discovering that detail is so interesting Was also nice to know that to start writing she just writes random rubbish just like I do Problem is, I don t get much further than that.

    22. I had so much enjoyed reading The Secret River for a second time and wanted to know about the research that Kate Grenville had done in order to write The Secret River As the family historian myself, I was as fascinated with this book as I was enthralled with the novel.

    23. The Secret River is a masterpiece that speaks for itself Nonetheless, I was still avid for and so I read this memoir about how the novel came to be written This is interesting, of course, but had the feel of an essay stretched out to book length.

    24. For me, it was very personal as I grew up in Wisemans Ferry, but as a writer this was invaluable to follow Kate s footsteps from idea to research to drafts lots and a completed book Gave me a whole new respect for her as a writer and story teller.

    25. This book gave some great insights into Kate s journey into understanding her family history while learning a lot about herself along the way Excellent for anyone considering writing something along the same lines.

    26. gave some great insights about the author s research and writing process I will share some of this at our book group discussion.

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