I originally read The Secret River by Kate Grenville over four years ago, and I was impressed enough to read the ‘sequel of sorts’ The Lieutenant and then (and even buy) the actual sequel Sarah Thornhill. It is a wonderful Australian novel, centred in colonial Australia and the mistreatment of Aboriginal Australians.The story revolves around William Thornhill, who was sent to Australia after stealing some wood, and only escaped death because of his wife, Sal (the mini-series makes this very suggestive of a sexual payment). In the book there was a lot more about life in London and the boat ride over to Australia, but in the TV show they skip over all that, I thought that lessened the importance of their new life, because life in London was extremely tough.
Overall, it was a reasonably good adaptation, and certainly showed off Australia’s natural beauty. It dealt quite well with the mistreatment of Aboriginal Australians, and the relationship between them and the new settlers. I think in the book, William actually became a lot closer to the local Aboriginals and began to appreciate them, but the show didn’t show it to the same degree. There were glimpses of it, but very quickly it became focused on William and the other settlers hatred and desire to eradicate them. Which is of course the more shocking aspect, perfect for drama. And they did this quite well, not too graphically, but very emotionally.
You can watch the trailer below