Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Secret River

I just finished The Secret River. It was a horrible novel. Well, perhaps not horrible, because it was well written, but I didn't enjoy reading it. Initially, I was drawn in by the prose while the plot wavered but when it finally mounted a track and found a destination, it steadfastly and predictably stuck to the plot with no surpri ses or character development on the way. The author had a message and relayed it, sparing no details and frequently dwelling on the obvious and macabre. There is no redemption. The character persistently lets his selfish ego direct his actions and his "sweet" wife either follows or encourages him along the way. He is repeatedly and predictably surprised by his wifes "talents", by how she has her own thoughts and dreams. He consistently suppresses any questions on his ill character and never tries to better himself morally. He ends a rich and powerful man which Grenville juxtaposes to his doomed and helpless start in England. So , in the end, the reader hates the man and has an ugly view of Australia. It's not a bad novel, but I had to skim through the last 50 or so pages because I just couldn't bear to be dragged through all the details of the last aboriginal slaughter to claim his land.

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