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Posted February 15, 2014
Eucalyptus is the third novel by prize-winning Australian author
Eucalyptus is the third novel by prize-winning Australian author, Murray Bail. A man called Holland comes into money and buys a property in NSW, west of Sydney. The previous owners spent much time clearing paddocks (“On the curvaceous back paddocks great guns slowly bleached and curled against the curve as trimmings of fingernails. Here and there bare straight trunks lay scattered and angled like a catastrophe of derailed carriages.”), but Holland soon changed that. His young daughter, Ellen, came to live with him. “The news quickly jumped the long distances out of town, and from there spread in different directions, entering the houses Holland had sat and eaten in, the way fire leaps over fences roads, bare paddocks and rivers, depositing smaller, always slightly different, versions of itself.” Ellen grew to be a beauty and Holland made a decision about her future that spread across continents and oceans. This novel is filled with gorgeous prose (“An unpainted shearing shed floating on its shadow in a paddock, moored to the homestead by the slack line of a fence.”), fascinating anecdotes, stories, tales, and legends, and many facts about eucalypts. There are parallels between the snippets of stories and the plot of the novel, and there is a marvellous twist at the end. Readers may find the writing reminiscent of Kate Grenville’s. This luminous novel is deservedly the winner of the 1998 ALS Gold Medal, the 1999 Miles Franklin Award and the 1999 Commonwealth Writers' Prize.
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Posted June 6, 2002
Subtle, original, totally captivating novel
Murray Bail's unlikely approach to a story of land, character and romance requires initial patience from the reader, but it's immediately rewarded by his careful, astonishing choice of details to weave a complex story of father and daughter, men's coping mechanisms when life takes unexpected turns, and, finally, at its center and leading to a fabulous crecendo of a sweet finale, the truth about love. Do not let the perhaps unfamiliar setting (Australia) and modus operandus (an obsession with the planting of eucalypt trees) deter you. Both become marvelous evocations of the human spirit, the qualities of devotion and the possibilities of hope.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.