Katherine Y. (Albuquerque, NM)
Interesting subject, lovely writing, but too short
Ms. Grenville book has some lovely imagery and great writing and the historical theme is very interesting, but overall it seems that not enough time is spent on any of the elements of the story. I was left wishing for a deeper examination of the characters and events. Recommend reading English Passengers by Matthew Kneale, a book with a similar subject but deeper exploration of story and characters.
Cheri W. (Grand Rapids, MN)
Um, yeah if I was in Leavenworth... maybe
So, yeah. This book started off reallllly slow. Then just when you thought, hey something is going to happen... nothing happens. But if you suffer from insomnia this is the book to take to bed. Or if you are locked up for a really long time and have read everything else in the library..give this book a gander. I did not much care for the lead in this story or for that matter his friends. I found the depiction of the "savages" to be average and basically the same old text I have read a million times. Oh how the savages wait for the young soldiers to show them the right way. Oh how relationships are made then thrown away with distrust. Oh how I have read this book and seen the "Very Special Brady" version of it. Even after reading the book, I am not quite sure what the plot was for certain. However, as a fan of WWII books and fast paced fction, I was disappointed. May I recommend Dark Places, Shanghai Girls, or Sarah's Key instead... much better reads as the winter days start on us!
Margo A. (Rehoboth, MA)
Not For Me
The Lieutenant was a difficult read. I found the vocabulary not to be user-friendly, often using terms that are uncommon. The sentences were often convoluted and hard to understand. The story is lacking in purpose, there seems to be no theme nor any successful conclusion. While Lt. Rooke found some thread of humanity in his interactions with Tagaran and some of the natives, the book never really gave the reader any sense of how this had made a difference in his life. He ended pretty much as he began - alone - Would not recommend this book to anyone.
Carol J. (Isle, MN)
The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville
An enjoyable work of historical fiction, about a period and place I knew little about. The story seemed uneven and only really joined by the inclusion of the main character, Daniel Rooke, through out. Grenville's protrayal of Rooke's early life was poignant; making me think of a person with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. Amazing how figuring out the prime numbers was such a draw for Rooke.
The interaction of Rooke, the rest of the crew and convicts with the local natives was very thought provoking. Made me wonder how our world would be now if more of the explores, conquerors and missionaries had viewed the native as Rooke did.
I felt the author left out a whole section when she went from Rooke leaving New South Whales to the end of his life. Would have preferred she fleshed that out much more.
This would be an interesting book for a book club discussion. Also enjoyed by young adults.
I plan to read some of Ms. Grenville's other books.
Jerry P. (Santa Rosa, CA)
Kate Grenville is a terrific writer who writes elegant, simple prose. Many sentences clearly describing the dilemmas Lieutenant Rooke, the main character, experienced were short and contained words that were less than eight letters. (If only Carl Jung could write like that).
I enjoyed the book - yet I was left with ambivalent feelings about the widespread colonization that has occurred throughout history. In how many countries were the lives of the indigenous people improved after they were colonized? I'll leave that discussion to book clubs.
Marion C. (Litchfield, NH)
Aboriginals versus convicts
If you are interested in the Aboriginals and how the first penal colony was settled in New South Wales in the 1780’s, The Lieutenant is the book worth reading. Although it is fiction loosely based on a real person, the rich details of daily life, conflicts, and diversity of language drives the story leaving its readers to want more.
Sally G. (St. Johns, Florida)
The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville
A quiet, thought provoking book that was so well written and interesting. A story based loosely on a William Dawes. The Lieutenant is the story of a young man that never quite belonged as he was a genius and maybe autistic. I found him shy, naive, and innocent even after encountering war. After the war he ended on a ship taking prisoners to New South Wales. It is here that the real story takes place and Kate Grenville writes a clean and clear story of the behavior of humans.
This was a hard book to finish because I found myself lost in thought and not reading. A beautiful book.