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About Kate Grenville
Kate Grenville (kategrenville.com) was born in Sydney, Australia. She's published eight books of fiction, including the multiple prize-winners 'The Secret River', 'The Lieutenant', 'The Idea of Perfection', and 'Lilian's Story'. She's also published three books about the writing process that are classic texts for Creative Writing classes, and a memoir about the research and writing of 'The Secret River'.
Grenville writes about Australia, but her themes are universal: love, violence, and survival. Her characters are often inspired by real historical characters: her own nineteenth century convict ancestor, an early Australian settler; a bag-lady on the streets of 1950s Sydney who quotes Shakespeare for a living; a soldier in the Sydney of 1788 who shares an extraordinary friendship of tenderness and respect with a young Aboriginal girl.
Grenville's international prizes include the Orange Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and a shortlisting for the Man Booker Prize. Her books have been published all over the world and translated into many languages, and two have been made into feature films.
Learn more about Kate Grenville, her books, and how to get hold of them, at kategrenville.com.
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What if Elizabeth Macarthur—wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in the earliest days of Sydney—had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? And what if novelist Kate Grenville had miraculously found and published it? That’s the starting point for A Room Made of Leaves, a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.
Marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her heart, the search for power in a society that gave women none: this Elizabeth Macarthur manages her complicated life with spirit and passion, cunning and sly wit. Her memoir lets us hear—at last!—what one of those seemingly demure women from history might really have thought.
At the centre of A Room Made of Leaves is one of the most toxic issues of our own age: the seductive appeal of false stories. This book may be set in the past, but it’s just as much about the present, where secrets and lies have the dangerous power to shape reality.
Kate Grenville’s return to the territory of The Secret River is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand by one of our most original writers.
Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s most celebrated writers. Her international bestseller The Secret River was awarded local and overseas prizes, has been adapted for the stage and as an acclaimed television miniseries, and is now a much-loved classic. Grenville’s other novels include Sarah Thornhill, The Lieutenant, Dark Places and the Orange Prize winner The Idea of Perfection. Her most recent books are two works of non-fiction, One Life: My Mother’s Story and The Case Against Fragrance. She has also written three books about the writing process. In 2017 Grenville was awarded the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature. She lives in Melbourne.
‘There is no doubt Grenville is one of our greatest writers’ Sunday Mail
‘Kate Grenville is a literary alchemist, turning the leaden shadow of the historical Elizabeth Macarthur into a luminescent, golden woman for our times. Intelligent, compassionate, strategic and dead sexy, Grenville’s Macarthur is an unforgettable character who makes us question everything we thought we knew about our colonial past. A polished gem of a novel by a writer who is as brave as she is insightful. I simply loved it.’ Clare Wright
‘Her fiction is always a challenge, a goad to our complacencies, social decorums and repressions…Richly imagined…[Provides] the shock we perhaps need to remind us of what might still be possible.’ Age/Sydney Morning Herald
In 1806 William Thornhill, an illiterate English bargeman and a man of quick temper but deep compassion, steals a load of wood and, as a part of his lenient sentence, is deported, along with his beloved wife, Sal, to the New South Wales colony in what would become Australia. The Secret River is the tale of William and Sal’s deep love for their small, exotic corner of the new world, and William’s gradual realization that if he wants to make a home for his family, he must forcibly take the land from the people who came before him.
Acclaimed around the world, The Secret River is a “magnificent” work of historical fiction that “pulls us ever deeper into a time when one community’s opportunity spelled another’s doom” (The New Yorker).
A stunning follow-up to her Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning book, The Secret River, Grenville’s The Lieutenant is a gripping story of friendship, self-discovery, and the power of language set along the unspoiled shores of 1788 New South Wales, Australia.
As a boy, Daniel Rooke was an outsider. Ridiculed in school for his intellect and misunderstood by his parents, he finds a path for himself in the British Navy—and in his love for astronomy. As a young lieutenant, Daniel joins a voyage to Australia. And while 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.
Out on his isolated point, Daniel becomes involved with the local Aborigines, forging an intimate connection with one girl that will change the course of his life. But when his compatriots come into conflict with the indigenous population, Daniel must turn away from the stars and declare his loyalties on the ground.
With The Secret River, Kate Grenville dug into her own family’s history to create an unflinching tale of frontier violence in early Australia. She continued her bold exploration of Australia’s beginnings in The Lieutenant. Now Sarah Thornhill brings this acclaimed trilogy to an emotionally explosive conclusion.
Sarah is the youngest daughter of William Thornhill, an ex-convict from London. Unknown to Sarah, her father has built his fortune on the blood of Aboriginal people. With a fine stone house and plenty of money, Thornhill has reinvented himself, teaching his daughter to never look back or ask about the past. Instead, Sarah fixes her eyes on handsome Jack Langland, whom she’s loved since she was a child. Their romance seems idyllic, but the ugly secret in Sarah’s family is poised to ambush them both.
Driven by the captivating voice of the illiterate Sarah—at once headstrong, sympathetic, curious, and refreshingly honest—this is an unforgettable portrait of a passionate woman caught up in a historical moment that’s left an indelible mark on the present.
Elegantly and compassionately told, The Idea of Perfection is reminiscent of the work of Carol Shields and Annie Proulx and reveals Kate Grenville as "a writer of extraordinary talent" (The New York Times Book Review).
Kate Grenville had always associated perfume with elegance and beauty. Then the headaches started.
Like perhaps a quarter of the population, Grenville reacts badly to the artificial fragrances around us: other people’s perfumes, and all those scented cosmetics, cleaning products and air fresheners. On a book tour in 2015, dogged by ill health, she started wondering: what’s in fragrance? Who tests it for safety? What does it do to people?
The more Grenville investigated, the more she felt this was a story that should be told. The chemicals in fragrance can be linked not only to short-term problems like headaches and asthma, but to long-term ones like hormone disruption and cancer. Yet products can be released onto the market without testing. They’re regulated only by the same people who make and sell them. And the ingredients don’t even have to be named on the label.
This book is based on careful research into the science of scent and the power of the fragrance industry. But, as you’d expect from an acclaimed novelist, it’s also accessible and personal. The Case Against Fragrance will make you see—and smell—the world differently.
When I was little, my mother had a tiny, precious bottle of perfume on her dressing-table and on special occasions she’d put a dab behind her ears. The smell of Arpege was always linked in my mind with excitement and pleasure–Mum with her hair done, wearing her best dress and her pearls, off for a night out with Dad.
When I got old enough to have my own special occasions I also had my favourite perfume. I loved the bottles: those sensuous shapes. I loved the names and the labels, so evocative of all things glamorous.Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s most celebrated writers. Her bestselling novel The Secret River received the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. The Idea of Perfection won the Orange Prize. Grenville’s other novels include Sarah Thornhill, The Lieutenant, Lilian’s Story, Dark Places and Joan Makes History. Kate lives in Sydney and her most recent works are the non-fiction books One Life: My Mother’s Story and The Case Against Fragrance.
‘One spritz of aftershave or perfume can leave other people retching and clutching their heads—you never see that in the ads.’ Kaz Cooke
‘Beginning with her own physical reaction to fragrance that begins with a headache a lot of us know ourselves, she investigates the fragrance industry and its side-effects and interweaves these facts with the personal to create an accessible work of non-fiction.’ ArtsHub
‘Fact-dense and extensively referenced, the book is a delight to read and never gets bogged down…While some of the science has been simplified, the book generally conveys the sense of it correctly…Well developed and thoughtful. Read The Case Against Fragrance and you will never think about fragrance in the same way again. If you have been suffering fragrance in silence, you will know you are not alone.’ Conversation
‘In this appealingly written exploration, Kate uncovers the dark side of the fragrance industry, from the carcinogens in after-shave to the hormone disruptors in perfume that mimic oestrogen.’ Child
‘An insightful and frightening book.
Born to an unhappy marriage and into a deeply sexist society, Nance Russell worked hard for everything she had, and while the world changed around her, she went on to university, to opening businesses and raising a family. One Life is Nance's story - and many other women's too - beautifully captured by her daughter, the bestselling novelist Kate Grenville. Kate draws on the tales passed down to her to create an evocative portrait of life in twentieth-century rural Australia, and a deeply intimate and caring homage to a mother.