Thursday, November 5, 2009

Living2Read Roundtable: On a scale of 1 to ...

“A decent novel can entertain you.
A good novel can make you feel stuff.
A great novel can change your life.”
Brad Bollenbach

Where does this novel (The Secret River by Kate Grenville) fit?

There are many ways to judge a novel.
- Did it expand your emotional repertoire?
- Did it deepen your self-understanding?
- Did any character change your perception of the world?

That’s a lot of heavy lifting for “made-up words.”

How well do you think the author succeeded with this book?

This is the fourth and last blog in this Roundtable series. You can find the others on Nov. 2, Nov. 3 and Nov. 4. We hope that you have enjoyed the conversation. If you have any suggestions for books that you would like to discuss in this forum, please let us know. Watch for an announcement of the next Roundtable.


  1. I guess I would qualify this novel as good (made me think, educated me and disturbed me) but not great (didn't change my life - that's quite a tall order). But I like novels that make me ask "What would I do in this situation?" and this one definitely did that.

  2. [I thought I commented on this but I didn't see it so I'll comment again.] I loved the Brad Bollenbach comment. But I think a great novel is one that stays with you for a long, long time even if it doesn't change your life. I think "The Secret River" was a good novel. It had wonderful, memorable characters. It may have changed my perception of the natives of NSW. The author made you see them as true, strong characters although they didn't communicate, in the usual way, or carry on conversations. She made the reader understand, what the settlers did not, that these people had a society and a structure that was as important as any the settlers had. In that sense I think this novel changed or enhanced my perception of the world.
    There were elements of this novel that missed for me. It is difficult to explain but it could be the brutality and a certain distance the author had from the events themselves. Was the massacre justified? The author seemed to think it was. Or was she just presenting history. That is how it happened and therefore that is how the author portrayed it.
    It was thought provoking!