Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book Challenge Update: Kate Grenville's The Secret River

(from my instagram, originally taken from the abc book club website)

Some of you may remember that towards the end of last year, I dared myself to read the top ten aussie books. My reasons for this are fairly simple: I enjoy reading challenges, I've never had much experience reading Australian literature, and, well, I wanted to.
I have already spoken about book ten - Picnic at Hanging Rock - and now I'm back to talk about Kate Grenville's book The Secret River.

I must admit, straight up, that this will not be a proper review of the book. I haven't actually finished it. So I will just shortly summarise my experience of reading the book, and why I decided to stop reading it and move on.
The Secret River begins in England, where the main character William Thornhill, grows up and makes his living. I won't give you much information about the book like I would in a review, as I cannot give you a completely holistic idea. What you most need to know here is that Thornhill is sent to Australia, and the bulk of the book is about his experiences while there with his wife and ever-expanding family.
While reading this book, I could easily notice how well it was written. Kate Grenville has a very solid way of writing that draws you in, regardless of the subject matter. Having said that, I found it hard to continue reading this book because I found I couldn't really relate to the characters as well as I would have liked. I think that this was just a personal opinion, as I didn't feel any great negativity towards the characters, I just didn't find myself able to like them, either.
Perhaps that doesn't make any sense, but my main reason for eventually deciding to stop reading this book was because I didn't feel I was gaining anything out of it. My love of Kate Grenville's writing style only went so far and, without any amount of feeling toward the main character and his trials, I found myself slowly pulling away from the book altogether. Those who follow my goodreads profile may have noticed that I have read quite a few different books since beginning The Secret River. Ultimately, I may end up coming back to this book, but for now it is marked as 'abandoned'.

I have taken quite awhile off from this challenge since then - I have read multiple self-help books, a couple of fantasies... even a novel based on a story from the bible (please see previous book reviews for some idea of this). But now I have returned to the challenge, determined to try and get through the next book.
Which is: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I have heard quite a few things about this book - the majority from my mum who has read it already. She said she found all the characters to be depraved and dislikable, but she couldn't stop reading anyway. I kind of hope that I'll have a similar experience and just sail through this one, as I'm not sure how well I'll go with a book full of characters I may (or may not) hate.
I started the book last night and am already about 30 pages in, so we'll see how we go. I think the main thing that might distract me at this point is all the OTHER reading I want to get through! Plus Uni starting next week! Eep! Wish me luck!

Love to all who read.

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