London, 1807: William Thornhill, happily wedded to his childhood sweetheart, Sal, is a waterman on the River Thames. Life is tough but bearable until William makes a mistake, a bad mistake, for which he and his family are made to pay dearly. His sentence: to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life.
The Thornhills arrive in a harsh and alien land that they do not understand and begin a life that feels like a death sentence. But among the convicts, there is a rumour that freedom can be bought - that "unclaimed" land up the Hawkesbury River offers an opportunity to start afresh. When William claims a hundred acres for himself, he is shocked to find Aboriginal people already living on the river - and that other recent arrivals are finding their own ways to respond to them. Soon William, a man neither better nor worse than most, has to make the most difficult decision of his life.
©2005 Kate Grenville; (P)2007 Hachette Audio