Well, it’s finally here: the first Living2Read Roundtable. Welcome!
Our hope is that those of us who have read the book can engage with each other in an exchange of thoughts and opinions about the book. If you are a member of a book group, you know that discussion of the author’s themes, intentions and characters in a novel can provide a broader context for analyzing current real-world issues. Respectful disagreement is a good thing – and welcome. As we experiment with a format for these Roundtables, it may have the feel of a work in progress – it is. But in time a solution will emerge. For this week, we will pose a question each day to start the discussion. Feel free to pose questions of your own about the book. To the point…
For this first Roundtable we have chosen The Secret River by Kate Grenville. It is the story of the early settlement of the area around Sydney, New South Wales (now known as Australia) by non-Aborigines as personified by William and Sal Thornhill. Perhaps the curriculum in other countries of the former British Commonwealth is more detailed than in the US but my own knowledge was only that this area was used as a penal colony for English convicts. I never thought to inquire what that might actually mean for the persons sent there. One test that I would make for any historical fiction is whether it inspires the reader to want to know more about the “facts”. By that measure I would judge this book an unqualified success. I would like to read more of the actual history of that time and place. If anyone can make a recommendation for further reading on that topic, please do so.
After Sagitty’s place is attacked and burned, Thornhill takes the dying Sagitty to the hospital in nearby Windsor. Instead of returning right away to Sal and the children, Thornhill goes to the local bar. With its repeated retellings, the story of the attack grows in its atrocities. Fear, prejudice and a desire for revenge drive the other men into a frenzy and Thornhill must decide whether to join in their murderous scheme. Could he have made a different choice? Do you think that he felt remorse for the choice that he did make? Was Sal somehow complicit in William’s choice by not challenging his version of what had occurred?
This is the first in a series of 4 blogs in this Roundtable. You can find the others on Nov. 3, Nov 4 and Nov. 5.