The Lieutenant is the second book in a trilogy of novels by Kate Grenville about early Australia (the others are The Secret River – see 2 posts below – and a third novel in progress).
Lieutenant Daniel Rooke sails into Sydney Cove with the First Fleet, hoping to advance his career. Instead his life is unimaginably changed.
A young Aboriginal girl visits and begins to teach him her language. As they learn to speak together, they build a rapport that bridges the gap between their dangerously different worlds. Then Rooke is given a command that forces him to choose between his duty as a soldier and the friendship that’s become so precious to him.
Inspired by the First Fleet notebooks of William Dawes, The Lieutenant is about a unique moment when one world engaged with another, and the two remarkable individuals who found ways to share understanding. I finished this book last night and yet again have been inspired and dismayed by the characters surrounding the invasion of the first fleet here in Australia. Dawes was an inspirational man, but just a man. He had his own issues and story. He finished this life amongst the poor and needy, people who were or had been enslaved and he spent his money in buying their freedom or so legend suggests! We do know that he spent much energy in the fight against slavery.
I look forward to the next book by Grenville!