Searching For The Secret River

Searching For The Secret River

Searching for the Secret River is a memoir about the writing of Kate Grenville's international bestseller, The Secret River.It tells the story of the research behind the novel - from the transcript of Grenville's ancestor's trial at the Old Bailey in 1805, to the information that contemporary historians are uncovering about what happened on the Australian frontier.

It quotes sections of early drafts and compares them with the final version, and goes into some detail about technical issues such as point of view, voice and dialogue.For anyone interested in the writing process - and in particular the writing of a historical novel - Searching for the Secret River provides a unique behind-the-scenes exploration.The Secret River has proved to be a controversial book among Australian historians.

A novelist may alter, simplify or even distort the truth about history in ways the reader will not be aware of.Kate Grenville has always had the same reservations about historical fiction.

Even before The Secret River was completed, she was planning a book which would make transparent the process by which she'd adapted the historical record for the purposes of fiction, and her reasons for the decisions she made.She says "The subject matter of The Secret River is so important, and so politically charged, I didn't want readers to be able to say oh, it's only a novel - she just made it all up.

I wanted readers to be able to retrace the journey I took in coming to terms with what I found about our history, and to see how I chose to adapt it for a novel."Twenty years of teaching Creative Writing in universities, and three books about the writing process, were the other impetus for Searching for The Secret River.

"Historical fiction has its particular challenges for the writer - I would have loved to read a book like this one while I was writing The Secret River.

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Reading The Secret River earlier this year was a profoundly moving experience, as was seeing the superb theatrical adaptation of the novel produced by the Sydney Theatre Company*. Together, the novel and the play spoke to me spoke to me about the colonial experience in New South Wales in a way that all of my other reading on this subject has failed to do. When Grenville described looking at Sydney Harbour, imagining what it was like when the ship on which Wiseman arrived in the colony, I remembered having done exactly the same thing, as I imagined the arrival of my ancestors. This is quick to read and highly recommended to anyone who loves The Secret River, who is interested in the process of researching and writing a novel or who has tried to make sense of family history.

This book is likely to be of interest to aspiring authors and family history researchers, or those who enjoyed The Secret River.

This is a thoroughly Australian story, that Kate Grenville tells from a personal viewpoint.

After grinding through The Secret River, the impression I got from it was that it was that 1) Grenville put a crap load of research into the book, and 2) it was a personal story of sorts, and Searching for the Secret River confirms this. Maybe it was only a subconscious decision, but still, the main character was extremely dull, like she didn't want to paint him as one way or the other because in some sense she would still be making up a personality for someone real and connected to her, and I can understand that it would be a tricky thing to commit to. Like the The Secret River, Searching for the Secret River had the same lack of ...

I thought she did pretty well in not getting the book bogged in details that were probably fascinating to her but perhaps not so much to an outsider there were only a couple of times I felt I was getting a bit lost in facts and figures.

Kate Grenville is one of my favourite writers and I was bitterly disappointed when her novel The Secret River was passed over by the Miles Franklin judges.

There's a passage in Kate Grenville's historic novel 'The Secret River' that perfectly encapsulates the avarice that took over Australia's emancipated convicts. What is surprising, on reading this 'making of' book, is that the protagonist is based on Grenville's own ancestor, Solomon Wiseman, after whom the Sydney hamlet of Wisemans Ferry is named. But having read Grenville's whole 'Secret River' triology and this 'making of' book, I could only liken it to journeying into the heart of darkness.

It's quite another to create a whole society, and particularly a society which the writer knows little or nothing of, yet novels create whole worlds so they need whole societies even if they're not altogether described.

  • Nonfiction

  • Rating: 3.97
  • Pages: 240
  • Publish Date: July 28th 2007 by Harper Perennial
  • Isbn10: 0002007118
  • Isbn13: 9780002007115