Kate Grenville was born in Sydney and holds degrees from Sydney University and the University of Colorado. In 1984 her first book, a collection of stories - Bearded Ladies - was published. Since then she has published six novels and four books about the writing process. Her works of fiction have been published to acclaim in Australia and overseas and have won state and national awards and her books about the writing process are used in many writing courses in schools and universities. Much-loved novels such as Lilian's Story (1985), Dark Places (1995) and Joan Makes History (1988) have become classics, admired by critics and general readers alike. The Secret River (2005) has won many prizes, including the Commonwealth Prize for Literature and the Christina Stead Prize, and has been an international best-seller. The Idea of Perfection (2000) won the Orange Prize. Kate Grenville lives in Sydney with her family.
In this first novel Grenville chronicles the life of Lil Sanger from her childhood in Australia in the early 1900s to her death. An imaginative loner as a child, Lil becomes increasingly alienated from her family and friends as she becomes a young woman. Lacking prospects for marriage because of her eccentricity and excessive weight, Lil enrolls briefly as a university student, but a violent incident with her father leads him to commit her to an insane asylum. Lil is eventually removed from the asylum by her aunt, who ends up supporting her. Grenville tries admirably to render Lil as a free spirit who chooses to live apart from ``normal'' society, but despite her good writing the result is unconvincing. Winner of the Australian/Vogel Award. Lucinda Ann Peck, Learning Design Associates, Gahanna, Ohio
Narrator Lilian grows up in a troubled household (her mother is afflicted by vapors and her pseudo-intellectual father tries to force himself on her sexually). ``Lilian's story often has the quality of a dream recounted while the dreamer is half asleep, which alone is a remarkable achievement,'' PW found. (November)