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Kate Grenville

Author of The Secret River

23+ Works 6,847 Members 309 Reviews 33 Favorited

About the Author

Kate Grenville was born in Sydney on October 14, 1950. She is a graduate of the University of Sydney with a BA (Honours), the University of Colorado with a MA and a PhD in Creative Arts from the University of Technology, Sydney. She is one of Australia's best-known authors. She is the winner of the show more Orange Prize for Fiction, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She will be at the Oz, New Zealand festival of literature and arts program in London in 2015. She also made the Indie Awards 2016 shortlists in the Nonfiction category with her title One Life. (Publisher Fact Sheets) show less

Includes the names: Kate Grenvill, Kate Grenville

Image credit: Courtesy of Allen and Unwin


Works by Kate Grenville

The Secret River (2005) 2,793 copies
The Idea of Perfection (2000) 1,019 copies
The Lieutenant (2008) 784 copies
Lilian's Story (1985) 421 copies
Sarah Thornhill (2011) 358 copies
A Room Made of Leaves (2020) 284 copies
Dark Places (1994) 237 copies
Joan Makes History (1988) 161 copies
One Life: My Mother's Story (2015) 87 copies
Dreamhouse (1986) 51 copies
The Case Against Fragrance (2017) 50 copies
Restless Dolly Maunder (2023) 50 copies

Associated Works

Granta 70: Australia - The New New World (2000) — Contributor — 167 copies
The Best Australian Stories 2007 (2007) — Contributor — 22 copies
The best Australian stories 2001 (2001) — Contributor — 14 copies
Solo: Writers on Pilgrimage (2004) — Contributor — 11 copies


Common Knowledge



November 2011: Kate Grenville in Monthly Author Reads (December 2011)


Restless Dolly Maunder is just that, restless. She is born in the 1880's in New South Wales, Australia. Her family is poor, and she has five older sisters and brothers, and another baby is on the way. They are a farming family , and their father is an angry, sometimes violent man, her mom unhappy and grim most of the time. Dolly does well in school, but but when she tells her parents that she wants to become a teacher, her father says " over my dead body". Dolly continues to work on the farm, and loathes the repetitive hard work, but sees no way out except to eventually marry.

A woman cannot sign for a loan, purchase a piece of property and has few options. Eventually at her parents urging , she settles for a man named Bert Russell. The marriage is no especially happy, but the couple have three children. Dolly finds she is not much for mothering, and quickly grows restless with their farm. With Dolly's urging and planning, the family moves around frequently, purchasing and running shops, pubs, hotels and a beach house.

p6 " Girls were of no account, you learned early on. Good enough to make bread and milk the cow, and later on you'd look after children . But no woman was ever going to a part of the real business of this world ." Dolly rails against this for the rest of her life. We often forget how difficult life was for women in days gone by, and this story illustrates that well. I recall my maternal grandmother wanting to purchase a house during WW11 , and having to get her father to sign the purchase for her, as my grandfather was at war. My paternal grandmother hid her marriage for several years so that she could continue to work, as married working women were not allowed to keep jobs.

At times I felt that story was a bit repetitive as the family moved from place to place, but overall a very thought provoking read.
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vancouverdeb | 2 other reviews | Mar 14, 2024 |
I love a book with short chapters. They propelled me through what feels like a short story, even though some of the chapter names were a bit perfunctory, almost tabloid in style. The very fine balance between Elizabeth's voice and the author, Kate Grenville's voice gradually tips into an almost farcical didacticism, The former becoming unbelievable as the latter dominates - a voice fresh from a workshop on the correct things to write about Indigenous colonial relations.

I wanted this curiously truncated book to succeed because I have several personal connections to the story: my mother was very involved in the restoration of Elizabeth Farm and, I was delighted and surprised to find a close relative, Nicholas Nepean (one of my middle names is Nepean) appear, even if it was not a particularly flattering portrayal.

What seems like the mundane discontent of a bad marriage turns almost heroic as Elizabeth gives birth to a sickly child. But there is something quite stultified about Elizabeth as a character (her children have no character). Perhaps it's because (like her marriage) Elizabeth can't escape her author's insistence that she have a 21st Century perspective.

Kate Grenville has missed a wonderful opportunity to examine how the various ways people thought about Aborigines influenced what they saw. This is something Keith Willey examines in his intriguing but little-known book [b:When the Sky Fell Down: The Destruction of the Tribes of the Sydney Region, 1788-1850's|975423|WHEN THE SKY FELL DOWN The Destruction of the Tribes of the Sydney Region 1788-1850s|Keith Willey|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1394329290l/975423._SY75_.jpg|960320]

Next, I'm thinking I'll read a history of the Aboriginal warrior [b:Pemulwuy, The Rainbow Warrior|6323289|Pemulwuy, The Rainbow Warrior|Eric Willmot|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1361081906l/6323289._SX50_.jpg|6508759] and from that perspective, I may be able to offer some more insightful comments about Kate Grenville's historical research.
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simonpockley | 18 other reviews | Feb 25, 2024 |
Using current knowledge of the times of the early British settlement of the Sydney & Hawkesbury River region and the interactions between white and black, Grenville has built a credible and tense tale woven around the story of one man who grew up impoverished and desperate. She has developed the tale around the conflicted attitudes of whites to the native residents of the region and how massacres came to be accepted as a way to "resolve" differences.
ElizabethCromb | 129 other reviews | Feb 13, 2024 |
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
Grenville takes three people, and to a lesser extent a handful of others, and acknowledges their personal doubts and fears. Not only are these characters presented with all their faults, they are honoured that way. Harley, Douglas and Felicity are all, one way or another, relatable people - and that is the beauty of this novel, which is more character than plot driven.
That the three of them are "fish out of water" in a tiny New South Wales town makes them even more interesting. And Grenville's depiction of the town, Karakarook, is deeply insightful. If you have ever visited a small Australian town you will recognise it here.… (more)
buttsy1 | 45 other reviews | Jan 17, 2024 |



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