Kate Grenville Watch #1

Reviews of The Lieutenant

Kerryn Goldsworthy in "The Age": "The Lieutenant, set before and during the first few years of the colony of NSW, recreates recorded historical relationships and events, and several of its characters are closely based on
real people. It also deals in detail with the first contact between Europeans and the Aboriginal population. It is, says Kate Grenville firmly, fiction. At least one of those things might get her into strife, as did her last novel, The Secret River, and there are certainly a number of complex issues to be addressed.
This novel's dark materials prevent it from 'sparkling', but it glows with life: imaginative in its re-creations, respectful of what cannot be imagined, and thoughtful in its interrogation of the past."
Andrew Rimmer in "The Sydney Morning Herald": "...as in The Secret River, The Lieutenant comes to an end with an epilogue of a kind, set decades after the main events of the novel. "There are, nevertheless, striking differences. This novel is much more compact, with fewer characters and leaner prose. Grenville's restraint will not please everyone. No doubt some readers will miss the greater amplitude and richness of atmosphere of the earlier work. To my mind, though, Grenville's approach is entirely valid, appropriate to the ambitions of this essay in forging a fictional narrative from well-documented history."
A British author takes exception to the implication that Grenville's novel is the first to tackle this subject matter.

Short Notices

"Reading, Writing and Retirement" weblog on The Idea of Perfection which "is filled with quirky characters, mostly people who are uncomfortable in their own skin and who question their own every move and every word that comes out of their mouth (or not, as the case may be)."
"Vulpes Libris" weblog on The Idea of Perfection: "It's very tempting not to summarise the book at all, because there's no way a summary could do this gem any justice. It is a story about some fairly low-key romances that happen in an obscure, oppressively hot, mostly barren part of the world -- doesn't sound very good so far, does it? But somehow Grenville manages to say so much about relationships and love and life that the book has a secretly broad reach and counts as the most satisfying novel I've read in a long time."
"Nikky's Journal" compares Conrad's Heart of Darkness with The Secret River: "...as Marlow and his crew were flowing in their boat down the river, I couldn't help but contrast it to the aboriginals, even the way Conrad has described these beasts. The emotive language he uses to describe their very existence is fabulous and so like the aboriginals - even the way they were used for labor - and then left to die..."


"Historians neglecting storyteller's role" by Justine Ferrari in "The Australian":

History has been "dulled down" by focusing exclusively on analysing evidence and argument, with historians neglecting their role as storytellers. Award-winning historian Peter Cochrane is urging his colleagues to look to the narrative techniques of literature to recreate the past in a vivid and lively way. Cochrane, an inaugural winner of the Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History, said historians should be able to cross freely into the territory of novelists and poets to use their techniques of plot, character, and imagination.
"We should be crossing boundaries and borrowing what we can from fiction, or at least from fiction writers ... in terms of structuring and vivifying a story."
Cochrane wants historians to use the techniques of novelists, and while he doesn't come right out and say it, it seems only reasonable that novelists should use the subject matter of historians.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 2, 2008 2:47 PM.

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