The Lieutenant – Kate Grenville

This was something that I got given as a birthday present in December and being in a bit of a reading slump at the moment, I needed to read something that was going to be different to what I’ve been reading recently. I’ve never really read anything about Australian history, or by an Australian author, so this intrigued me. This is an historical fiction book set in the late 1700s to early 1800s. It focusses on Daniel Rooke, a young man, discovering himself, as well as the new world in Australia along with it’s natives and language.

Historical fiction isn’t something that I would usually pick up, but I was surprised with this novel. The writing was absolutely flawless and this proved to be a beautifully crafted piece of fiction. Although this is technically fiction, it is based on a lot of historical facts and Rooke, the protagonist, is based on a real historical figure. I felt that this added a lot of realistic elements and emotions to the book and really dragged me, as a reader, into the story and the situation that Rooke finds himself in.

One of my favourite things about this novel is the use of language that Grenville includes. As Rooke is discovering the language of the natives, the reader also is discovering it along with him. I found that this helped me to become completely immersed in the story and the world of Australia at that time.

The writing is also one of the main things that kept me reading on throughout the slower parts of this book. It is some of the most beautiful writing I have come across with its poetic descriptions of the landscape and Rooke’s surroundings, as well as the more philosophical aspects of Rooke’s train of thought. I found that this novel really got me thinking about the attitudes of humanity and the reasoning behind certain things that we, as a species, do.

Overall, I would give this 4 out of 5 stars as although it parts it went a bit slow, I absolutely loved the writing and the surrounding that Kate Grenville created through her words and perfectly formed, true-to-life characters. A must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction, or just wants to try something new!

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