After a childhood of poverty and petty crime in the slums of London, William Thornhill is sentenced in 1806 to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife, Sal, and children in tow, he arrives in a harsh land that feels at first like a death sentence. But among the convicts there is a whisper that freedom can be bought, an opportunity to start afresh. Away from the infant township of Sydney, up the Hawkesbury River, are white men who have tried to do just that. But, as uninhabited as the island appears at first, Australia is full of native people, and they too claim the land as their own.
Already a best-seller in Australia, The Secret River is the dramatic and potent story of Grenville’s ancestors, who wrested a new life from the alien terrain of Australia and its native people.