Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

First settlement in New South Wales

Born in 1767 England, Daniel Rooke was a boy of great intelligence. He was exceptional with numbers and has a keen sense of curiosity about where numbers could lead him. Even though he had this intelligence or in part because of it he had trouble forming friendships with his peers.

Daniel was accepted to At Portsmouth Naval College on scholarship and became quite interested in astronomy. He becomes a Lieutenant in the Navy and goes on a mission to take convicts to New South Wales. On the ship he took on the role of navigator and once in Australia, that of Astronomer. Part of the mission was to get to know the natives and try to befriend them so that the convicts and others could live in safety.

As Astronomer, Rooke was given permission to build an observatory away from the camp to live and work in. After a time some of the natives started visiting him there and he built up a friendship with a young girl named Tagaran. She teaches him the native language and he keeps meticulous records about their conversations and the language. However, soon the relationship between the natives and soldiers deteriorates and Rooke has to choose between his friendship with the natives and duty.

I loved Kate Grenville's The Secret River (see my review) and was highly anticipating her next book. While I quite enjoyed it, I didn't love it like The Secret River. It took a long time for me to warm up to the character of Daniel Rooke . Once her started his relationship with the natives, I did warm up to him and loved reading about his special friendship with Tagaran. The problem is that it took well over 100 pages to lead up to this and it didn't last very long. I would have like to explore the relationship further. Also, in the last chapter when find out the Rooke had been married but nothing about the relationship. We are never introduced to his wife.

That said, I did enjoy The Lieutenant and would recommend it, especially to those interested in the first settlement in New South Wales.



  1. Interesting, I did see that the library have The Secret River so at least that one I will check out

  2. Blodeuedd,

    The Secret River is one of my top 5 all time favorites. Do read it and let me know what you think.

  3. I love that cover.
    I will have to check out The Secret River then.