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Kate Grenville Books In Order

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Publication Order of Singer Family Books

Lilian's Story (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Joan Makes History (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dark Places / Albion's Story (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Thornhill Family Books

The Secret River (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Lieutenant (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sarah Thornhill (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Dreamhouse (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Idea of Perfection (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Room Made of Leaves (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
Restless Dolly Maunder (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

Bearded Ladies (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Making Stories (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Writing from Start to Finish: A Six-Step Guide (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Searching for the Secret River (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
One Life: My Mother's Story (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Case Against Fragrance (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Something Special, Something Rare(2015)Description / Buy at Amazon

Kate Grenville is a historical fiction author from Melbourne best known as the author of the “Thornhill Family” series. “Bearded Ladies,” which is a collection of stories is her first work that she published in 1984. Her fiction works have been published to much acclaim in her home country of Australia as well as across the world. They have also won national state and international awards. Her nonfiction works which are instruction manuals on the art of writing are used as course books in many universities and schools. Grenville’s novels such as “Joan Makes History,” “Dark Places” and “Lilian’s Story” are classic works that have been loved by readers and critics alike. In 2005, she was the winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and also made the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. She also made the shortlist for the Western Australian Premiers’ Award and was the winner of the Orange Prize. In 2017, she won the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in Literature administered by the Australia Council Award.

Grenville was born in 1950 and spent much of her childhood in Sydney, Australia. As a teen, she went to Sydney University where she graduated with an Arts degree. She then went on to work as a script consultant, writer and editor of documentary films for Film Australia. Kate then held several jobs in Paris and London before she left for the US since she intended to pursue a master in creative fiction from the University of Colorado. Once she graduated in 1982, she went back to Australia and for several years she worked as an editor of subtitles for the Special Broadcasting Service. Kate then worked as a teacher of creative writing, reviewer and freelance writer. She would then get several grants that made it possible for her to work part time jobs while she wrote her fiction. A crude version of the manuscript for the novel “The Secret River” was what she submitted to the University of Technology Sydney as fulfillment of the course requirements. In addition to the many awards she has won over the years, she also has honorary doctorates from the University of NSW, Macquarie University, and Sydney University.

Like many authors, Kate Grenville got into storytelling as a child. As an eight year old, she had been captivated by the story “Trapped by the Tide.” As she grew older, she became obsessed with the Biggles and read more than sixty titles in the series. She was also a huge lover of the “Father Brown” and “Sherlock Holmes” books. As a sixteen year old, she had her first rejection when she sent a short story she wrote to a women’s magazine. The editor sent her a reply saying she liked it but would not publish. In her mid-twenties, she penned two horrible autobiographies and as expected she did not have anyone interested in publishing it. Her first published work was when she was 30 and got her short story published in the literary magazine of the University of Sydney. Four years later, she published “Bearded Ladies,” her first collection of stories under University of Queensland Press. She cites Jane Austen is her biggest influence in her writing career. She thinks there is no one that beats Austen’s ability to write irony and perceive the world from a microcosm. Nonetheless, she has also had other influences including Virginia Woolf, and Patrick White who just like her writes about the Australian society and landscape.

Kate Grenville’s “The Secret River” is the story of William Thornhill the lead of the novel who is a River Thames boatman. He has lived much of his adult life in poverty alongside his child and wife. In 1806, he had stolen to feed his wife and kid and was convicted of the crime. He was sentenced to death but his sentence is commuted to expulsion to New South Wales that was then a penal colony. Over time, he had managed to become an emancipated convict and then settled along the banks of the Hawkesbury River. Living in the remote area, William and his fellow colonists have to brush shoulders with the local Aboriginal tribes. The aboriginals have refused to move away from their ancestral lands despite the fact that more settlers are moving in and building fences and huts and planting crops. But the fencing cuts them off from their vital food routes and this means that conflict with the settlers is inevitable. Thornhill needs to decide if he is ready to do anything to keep his farm which has now become his life.

“The Lieutenant” by Kate Grenville is a fascinating story about self discovery, friendship and the power of language set in New South Wales in 1788. Daniel Rooke had always been a boy on the fringes of his society that was misunderstood by his parents and ridiculed in school. His only hope was that he would one day get to fit anywhere. When he grows up, he joins the marines and becomes a First Fleet lieutenant in New South Wales. He thinks his life is finally looking up and hopes he gets his chance at new beginnings. As fellow colonists struggle to communicate with the Aboriginals in the land and control the many convicts they are bringing in, he constructs an observatory. It is with the observatory that he begins scientific studies and charting of the stars that will make him a famous scientist. But out on the isolated plot of land where he set up his observatory, he rubs shoulders with the local and forges a strong connection with Tagaran, a young Aboriginal girl. Ever as the strained relationships between the native tribes and colonists degenerates into violence, Daniel has to choose between allegiance to his country, commitment to his work and the bond he has built with Tagaran and the locals.

Kate Grenville’s “Sarah Thornhill” tells of the quest to discover the legacy of the Thornhill family by the youngest daughter. She was born to pioneer settler William Thornhill, an unlettered former convict from London that had made his wealth from the blood of the natives. They have plenty of money and a fine home that nobody could ever tell that he was once a convict. He tells his daughter that he has never been a man who looks back and hence she learned not to ask him anything about the family history. Instead, she gets her eyes on Jack Langland the handsome young man she loved ever since childhood. It seems that they are fated to be lovers only for a dark secret to ambush them when they least expect it. This is a refreshingly honest, curious and unforgettable story of a woman who stumbles into astonishing turmoil due to a history she never knew anything about.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Kate Grenville

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