Judy (Marysville, OH)
Beautifully written; based on historical events
In the late 1700s, Daniel Rooke, a naive astronomer/scientist with his head and heart set squarely on the stars in the sky, sails as a lieutenant with the first fleet taking English prisoners to colonize New South Wales. Two things happen. A single terrible incident foreshadows for Rooke the brutal impact of a colonizing force on the native people. And Rooke's heart opens to an astonishing native girl who teaches him how deeply the heart can feel. The inevitable choices he must make change his life forever.
If you love this book as much as I did, you will also love the books of Andrea Barrett.
Susan K. (dartmouth, MA)
A quiet, thought-provoking account of a socially inept loner (based on the actual lieutenant William Dawes), The Lieutenant explores a host of questions: what is friendship; to whom should one be loyal; are the values one is brought up with necessarily good for all societies, and if not - what to do about it? Of particular interest to me was the way in which the author portrayed the young lieutenant's burgeoning preoccupation with the intricacies of the aboriginal language and culture. I very much liked Grenville's use of language and am looking forward to reading an earlier book of hers, "The Secret River" next.
Jean T. (Paducah, KY)
Good, but I wanted more!
This book was my introduction to the writings of Kate Grenville, and I must say I am delighted to have finally made her acquaintance and plan to read more of her work. I thoroughly enjoyed the lush, lyrical power of her descriptive prose. However, I finished this book wanting more, wishing that she had explored the weightier themes more deeply. I think this is a good book, well worth reading, but feel the author missed the opportunity to develop it into a great book with a more powerful story.
Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)
Australia & the Astronomer
I very much enjoyed this book. Grenville's fictionalized account of the British colonization of Australia gives an immediate & intimate perspective of the newly formed penal colony. The interactions between the "natives" and eccentric protagonist Daniel Rooke are small jewels of description. His interest and friendship with the natives rings true, as does his realization of what's important in his life. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy literary fiction; a thought provoking read.
Bibliophile (New England)
Daniel Rooke was a lonely child, misunderstood by not only other children, but by his parents as well. He found comfort in books and astronomy. As an adult, he prefers solitude yet surprisingly he is able to form strong relationships with his fellow marines.
Rooke forges an unlikely friendship with a young Aboriginal girl, and their lives are forever changed.
I was so deeply moved by the treatment of the Aboriginal people.
The Lieutenant is a touching story, beautifully written, and thought provoking. The narrative was engaging, and my only complaint was that I wished the story was longer. Historical fiction fans should enjoy this book. I had not read Grenville's earlier book, The Secret River, but plan to do so now.
Madeline M. (Sarasota, FL)
A Novel of Discovery
Author Kate Grenville has a new fan! Her simple and straightforward style belies a depth and complexity of both story and characters. This is not only a novel of science and exploration, but also of discovery - discovery of place and peoples and language, discovery of self and purpose.
Ruth Harris D. (Tyrone, GA)
Kate Grenville does an excellent job of writing in a 1800's Englishman's voice. Daniel Rooke and others travel from England to New South Wales. Daniel, a student of math, astronomy and languages, goes to study weather and the nighttime skies. Though an outsider in a strange land he finds himself feeling, for the first time in his life, as if he belongs. He befriends the natives and tries to learn their language, their ways. The story is based on historical records but doesn't read as such. Interesting story written well.