Monday, March 23, 2009

The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

Daniel Rooke, soldier and astronomer, was always an outsider. As a young lieutenant of marines he arrives in New South Wales on the First Fleet in 1788, and sees his chance. He sets up his observatory away from the main camp, and begins the scientific work that he hopes will make him famous.Aboriginal people soon start to visit his isolated promontory, and a child named Tagaran begins to teach him her language. With meticulous care he records their conversations.An extraordinary friendship forms, and Rooke has almost forgotten he is a soldier when a man is fatally wounded in the infant colony. The lieutenant faces a decision that will define not only who he is but the course of his entire life.
I loved this book! I read it slowly over the summer – hoping to make it last. In ‘The Lieutenant’, Kate Grenville eloquently tells the remarkable story of the encounter and eschewing friendship between Daniel Rooke (the Lieutenant) and an Aboriginal girl - Tagaran (from the Cadi-gal tribe). Rooke has the sensitivity and the scholarly skills to begin to record what Tagaran can teach him of the Cadi-gal language. Through Rooke, Grenville evocatively describes the landscape and people of the settlement of New South Wales with great clarity and restraint.
Both ‘The Lieutenant’ and Grenville’s earlier book ‘The Secret River’ get 5/5 from me.
A great Read!
Rating - I give this 5/5
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Kim @ Ballarat library

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