The Lieutenant

The Lieutenant

Book - 2008
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A stunning follow-up to her Commonwealth Writers' Prize-winning book, The Secret River , Grenville's The Lieutenant is a gripping story about friendship, self-discovery, and the power of language set along the unspoiled shores of 1788 New South Wales. As a boy, Daniel Rooke was an outsider. Ridiculed in school and misunderstood by his parents, Daniel could only hope that he would one day find his place in life. When he joins the marines and travels to Australia as a lieutenant on the First Fleet, Daniel finally sees his chance for a new beginning. As his countrymen struggle to control their cargo of convicts and communicate with nearby Aboriginal tribes, Daniel constructs an observatory to chart the stars and begin the work he prays will make him famous. But the place where they have landed will prove far more revelatory than the night sky. Out on his isolated point, Daniel comes to intimately know the local Aborigines and forges a remarkable connection with one girl that will change the course of his life. The Lieutenant is a remarkable story about the poignancy of a friendship that defies linguistic and cultural barriers, and shows one man that he is capable of exceptional courage.
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780802119162
Characteristics: 307 p. ; 22 cm.


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Feb 23, 2014

I found this book interesting but very slow and a little dull. The fact that it is based on a true story, which I found out at the end of the story, makes it all the more memorable in bringing alive the early colonial days.

m2 Nov 16, 2011

Gorgeous book. To be read and pondered. When an autistic and gifted astronomer joins the marines and in 1788 travels to Australia with the First Fleet, he makes contact in a way that changes his life forever. Based on a true story. One caveat -- DO NOT read the teaser on the flyleaf -- it is a spoiler and takes some of the wind out of Grenville's unbelievably beautiful story.

debwalker Jan 04, 2011

Chosen by Judy Fong Bates as her book of the year: "The hero of The Lieutenant, by Kate Grenville, is Daniel Rooke, the son of an ordinance clerk in the town of Portsmouth, who received a bursary in 1770 to a private school because of his brilliance in mathematics, languages, music and astronomy. But when it came to people, Rooke was clumsy and often uncomprehending. For him “conversation was a problem he could not solve.”

"His awkwardness and naivety made him receptive, but vulnerable, as a young Royal Navy lieutenant and astronomer in Australia while helping to establish a penal colony. During this time, he developed a deep but innocent friendship with an aboriginal girl which was misunderstood and ultimately placed him in a position of having to choose his loyalties. This book, at times, made me squirm with discomfort while it examined the many faces of love, friendship, loyalty, class, race and belonging. The piercing clarity and depth of Grenville’s prose is unforgettable."

Dec 27, 2010

The principle of the book is interesting, but I couldn't get into the book for a couple of reasons: First, the book seemed to start about 100 pages too soon, in terms of useful plot, and I didn't get remotely excited about anything until close to page 250. Second, the narrative voice does a lot of telling and voicing questions for the character, so the characters fell flat to me. This story is based on a true story, and usually I do like the insertion of historical details to make a story come alive, but this one seemed to sacrifice the writing for the historical detail. Even when the plot was at its thickest I didn't really feel that edge-of-seat suspense I should have been feeling. I finished the book because I wanted to say I did, not because it was a page-turner. The book was OK, but I wouldn't rush out to recommend it to someone.

Nov 09, 2009

Read Kate Grenville if you haven't and like literary tales based on real lives. I have loved each of her books. Daniel Rooke in this novel is a quietly introspective man who is transformed when he discovers from the young aboriginal girl Tagaran that learning one's language is much, much more than the words. I was reminded of two other books read: J. L. Carr's A Month in the Country and Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man.


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