First settlement in New South Wales
Born in 1767 England, Daniel Rooke was a boy of great intelligence. He was exceptional with numbers and had a keen sense of curiosity about where numbers could lead him. Even though he had this intelligence or in part, due to this, he had trouble forming friendships with his peers.
Daniel was accepted to At Portsmouth Naval College on scholarship and became quite interested in astronomy. He becomes a Lieutenant in the Navy and went on a mission to take convicts to New South Wales. On the ship he took on the role of navigator and once in Australia, that of Astronomer. Part of the mission was to get to know the natives and try to befriend them so that the convicts and others could live in safety.
As Astronomer, Rooke was given permission to build an observatory away from the camp, to live and work in. After a time, some of the natives started visiting him there and he built up a friendship with a young girl named Tagaran. She taught him the native language and he kepts meticulous records about their conversations and the language. However, soon the relationship between the natives and soldiers deteriorated and Rooke had to choose between his friendship with the natives and duty.
I loved Kate Grenville’s The Secret River (see my review) and was highly anticipating her next book. While I quite enjoyed it, I didn’t love it like The Secret River. It took a long time for me to warm up to the character of Daniel Rooke . Once he started his relationship with the natives, I did warm up to him and loved reading about his special friendship with Tagaran. The problem was that it took well over 100 pages to lead up to this and it didn’t last very long. I would have like to explore the relationship further. Also, in the last chapter when we find out that Rooke had been married, there is nothing about how that relationship came about or who his wife was. We are never introduced to his wife.
That said, I did enjoy The Lieutenant and would recommend it, especially to those interested in the first settlement in New South Wales.
Thanks to Deanna McFadden of Harper Collins Canada for the Advanced Readers Copy of this book.
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