Kate Grenville Books In Order

Singer Family Books In Publication Order

  1. Lilian’s Story (1984)
  2. Joan Makes History (1988)
  3. Dark Places / Albion’s Story (1994)

Thornhill Family Books In Publication Order

  1. The Secret River (2005)
  2. The Lieutenant (2007)
  3. Sarah Thornhill (2011)

Standalone Novels In Publication Order

  1. Dreamhouse (1987)
  2. The Idea of Perfection (1999)
  3. A Room Made of Leaves (2020)

Collections In Publication Order

  1. Bearded Ladies (1984)

Non-Fiction Books In Publication Order

  1. Making Stories (1993)
  2. The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers (1993)
  3. Writing from Start to Finish: A Six-Step Guide (2001)
  4. Searching for the Secret River (2006)
  5. One Life: My Mother’s Story (2015)
  6. The Case Against Fragrance (2017)

Singer Family Book Covers

Thornhill Family Book Covers

Standalone Novels Book Covers

Collections Book Covers

Non-Fiction Book Covers

Kate Grenville Books Overview

Lilian’s Story

Shielded from emotional and physical abuse by layers of fat, Lilian struggles to escape a suffocating existence in the home of her tyrannical Victorian father and her elegant but ineffectual mother. Madness, cruelty and sexuality permeate the family’s upper crust Australian world. Lilian Una Singer starts life at the beginning of the twentieth century as the daughter of a prosperous middle class Australian family. She ends it as a cheerfully eccentric bag lady living on the streets, quoting Shakespeare. This book traces the progress of her life’s journey, and why she made the choices she did. She’s a person large in spirit as well as body, who wants to invent her own story, rather than allow it to be invented for her. Life presents her with many obstacles including the sinister advances of her father but in spite of this she succeeds. Triumphantly, she makes her life her own, savouring every moment with the reminder that ‘everything matters’.

Joan Makes History

A rewrite of the history of Australia from the viewpoint of a woman named Joan. Though she has never rated a mention in the history books, she has been present at all the big moments in her country’s past. Ranging from the first landing in 1770 to the gold rush of 1851.

Dark Places / Albion’s Story

‘A writer of extraordinary talent’ ‘New York Times’. Albion Gidley Singer appears an entirely proper man: husband, father, pillar of the community. But he is a hollow man, and within him are frightened and frighteningly dark places from which spring loathing and fear of female flesh. And the kind of violence that might call itself love. ‘Dark Places’ tells the story of this man two parts monster to one part buffoon and of his growing obsession. As the horror mounts, we gain a terrifying glimpse of the male ego’s dark side, and of the destruction it can wreak upon itself and others. Yet at the same time Kate Grenville keeps alive the reader’s sympathy for this doomed figure. This is a novel that fearlessly confronts the aspects of ourselves from which we normally recoil. ‘An eloquent, angry and humane novel…
A very fine, albeit terrifying, writer’ ‘Irish Times’. ‘Remarkable’ ‘Guardian’.

The Secret River

The Orange Prize winning author Kate Grenville recalls her family’s history in an astounding novel about the pioneers of New South Wales. Already a best seller in Australia, The Secret River is the story of Grenville’s ancestors, who wrested a new life from the alien terrain of Australia and its native people. London, 1806. William Thornhill, a Thames bargeman, is deported to the New South Wales colony in what would become Australia. In this new world of convicts and charlatans, Thornhill tries to pull his family into a position of power and comfort. When he rounds a bend in the Hawkesbury River and sees a gentle slope of land, he becomes determined to make the place his own. But, as uninhabited as the island appears, Australia is full of native people, and they do not take kindly to Thornhill’s theft of their home.

The Secret River is the tale of Thornhill’s deep love for his small corner of the new world, and his slow realization that if he wants to settle there, he must ally himself with the most despicable of the white settlers, and to keep his family safe, he must permit terrifying cruelty to come to innocent people.

The Lieutenant

A stunning follow up to her Commonwealth Writers Prize winning book, The Secret River, Grenville’s The Lieutenant is a gripping story about friendship, self discovery, and the power of language set along the unspoiled shores of 1788 New South Wales. As a boy, Daniel Rooke was an outsider. Ridiculed in school and misunderstood by his parents, Daniel could only hope that he would one day find his place in life. When he joins the marines and travels to Australia as a lieutenant on the First Fleet, Daniel finally sees his chance for a new beginning. As his countrymen struggle to control their cargo of convicts and communicate with nearby Aboriginal tribes, Daniel constructs an observatory to chart the stars and begin the work he prays will make him famous. But the place where they have landed will prove far more revelatory than the night sky. Out on his isolated point, Daniel comes to intimately know the local Aborigines and forges a remarkable connection with one girl that will change the course of his life. The Lieutenant is a remarkable story about the poignancy of a friendship that defies linguistic and cultural barriers, and shows one man that he is capable of exceptional courage.

The Idea of Perfection

Published to great acclaim in Britain, Kate Grenville’s fifth novel, The Idea of Perfection, recently won the Orange Prize, Britain’s most valuable literary award. Set in the eccentric little backwater of Karakarook, New South Wales, pop. 1374, it tells the story of Douglas Cheesman, a shy, gawky engineer with jug handle ears, and Harley Savage, a large, rawboned, plain woman who is a part time museum curator. Harley has come to Karakarook to help the town build a heritage museum; Douglas is there to pull down the quaint old Bent Bridge, and from day one, they’re on a collision course. Both characters carry a hidden cargo of guilt along with the memories of failed marriages, but out of this unpromising conjunction of opposites, something unexpected happens: something even better than perfection. Elegantly and compassionately told, The Idea of Perfection is reminiscent of the work of Carol Shields, Peter Carey, and J.M. Coetzee and shows Kate Grenville as ‘a writer of extraordinary talent’ The New York Times Book Review.

Making Stories

Good writers make writing look easy but is it? Anyone learning to write should be encouraged by ‘Making Stories‘ it shows that even our greatest novelists come to their books by a long and uncertain process. ‘Making Stories‘ shows ten acclaimed Australian authors at work, painstakingly constructing their books from rough notes, dimly glimpsed ideas, and trial and error. By referring to extracts from drafts and published versions of their novels, each author candidly discusses how they work, taking the reader step by step through the creative process to share the invisible hours of toil that shape a work of fiction. All faced problems and doubts, and solved them in a sometimes startling way. Admirers of the novels used in ‘Making Stories‘ will be interested by the behind the scenes work that brought them about. Each writer’s section contains: an extract from an early draft sometimes just a rough note on a scrap of paper; a corresponding extract from the published book, showing how this early material was finally used; and an interview with the writer about the progress that took them from that early writing to the published book. Featured writers include Jessica Anderson, Peter Carey, Helen Garner, Thomas Keneally, David Ireland, Elizabeth Jolley, Finola Moorhead and Patrick White, as well as the two authors.

The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers

From the acclaimed author of The Secret River, a completely practical workbook that offers down-to-earth ideas and suggestions for writers or aspiring writers to get started and keep going Full of ideas and examples to get pen to paper or fingers on the keyboard, this guide doesn’t just talk about how to write fiction; it takes the reader, step-by-step, through the process of doing it. Each chapter concentrates on one aspect of writing: getting started, bringing characters to life, writing convincing dialogue, revising and writer’s block, and more. Exercises in each chapter are carefully structured so that each one builds on the previous. Examples from contemporary writing demonstrate how different writers tackle the technical aspects of their art. By working through this book, a reader will gradually craft a piece of fiction, and develop confidence in their own fictional voice. Those who would like to write but are not sure how to start will find that this book gets them started, while those who are already writing will find plenty of practical ideas for new energy and direction.

Writing from Start to Finish: A Six-Step Guide

Ideal for writing a short story, essay, review, or report, this guide provides beginning writers with the hands on direction they need to improve their writing techniques and ability. Using a six step approach to writing, this resource covers brainstorming ideas, choosing a topic, outlining, drafting, revising, and editing. The tone is casual, the advice is straightforward, and the whole approach makes writing a skill that anyone can learn. Illustrations reinforce the ideas visually and help to break up the text into bite sized chunks. An example section with worked examples of two kinds of writing a creative writing piece and an essay takes readers through the six steps, so they can watch writing develop from a blank page to a finished piece. Ideal for high school students but also appropriate for writers of all ages, this book also includes tips on user friendly grammar, a table of different types of text, and a quick night before the exam summary.

Searching for the Secret River

Kate Grenville’s ‘The Secret River’ was one of the most loved novels of 2006. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and awarded the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the story of William Thornhill and his journey from London to the other side of the world has moved and exhilarated hundreds of thousands of readers. ‘Searching for the Secret River‘ tells the story of how Grenville came to write this wonderful book. It is in itself an amazing story, beginning with Grenville’s great great great grandfather. Grenville starts to investigate her ancestor, hoping to understand his life. She pursues him from Sydney to London and back, and slowly she begins to realise she must write about him. ‘Searching for the Secret River‘ maps this creative journey into fiction, and illuminates the importance of family in all our lives.

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