Eucalyptus: A Novel

Eucalyptus: A Novel

4.5 2
by Murray Bail
     
 

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Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

On a property in New South Wales, a widower named Holland lives with his daughter, Ellen. Over the years as she grows into a beautiful woman, Holland plants hundreds of different eucalyptus trees on his land,

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Overview

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

On a property in New South Wales, a widower named Holland lives with his daughter, Ellen. Over the years as she grows into a beautiful woman, Holland plants hundreds of different eucalyptus trees on his land, filling the landscape, making a virtual outdoor museum of trees. When Ellen is nineteen, Holland announces that she may only marry the man who can correctly name the species of each and every gum tree on his property. A strange contest begins, and Ellen is left unmoved by her suitors until she chances on a strange young man resting under the Coolibah tree whose stories will amaze and dazzle her. A modern fairy tale, and an unforgettable love story, that bristles with spiky truths and unexpected wisdom about art, feminine beauty, landscape, and language. Eucalyptus affirms the seductive power of storytelling itself.

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Editorial Reviews

Daneet Steffens
...[A] sweet, swift story....[about] the deceptive course of true love.
Entertainment Weeky
Washington Post
A mesmerizing novel, Eucalyptus offers eccentric meditations on art, landscape, gender differences, history and much else....Curious power is precisely what this novel delivers.
The Seattle Times
A minor masterpiece . . . One of the best courtship stories ever written.
Library Journal
In this bland modern-day fairy tale, 19-year-old Ellen is the beautiful motherless daughter of John Holland, who decides to find a suitable husband for his only child. Holland devises a test--he who correctly identifies the genus and species of every one of the nearly 500 eucalyptus trees planted by Holland himself on his vast Australian spread will win Ellen's hand. Her legendary beauty attracts countless eager suitors, but all fail. Then older, courtly Mr. Cave arrives, and Ellen watches in increasing despair as he successfully identifies one grove after another. Enter a mysterious unnamed young stranger who suddenly appears by Ellen's side, escorting her from tree to tree, charming her with dozens of stories, each clearly tied to the names of the eucalyptus. Bursting with Latin terms and tree characteristics intended to serve as metaphors for life and love, this novel (whose author won Australia's National Book Award for Homesickness in 1986) may appeal to romantics with a special interest in the botanical. A marginal purchase for large public libraries.--Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
Michael Upchurch
. . .[I]t's a pleasure simply to be immersed in Bail's caprice-prone mind. . . .the only warning readers need is that [the book] leaves you hungering for more -- far more -- of its author's strange and spry imaginings. -- The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
A fable-like novel from prizewinning Australian writer Bail (Homesickness) poses an age-old question: How do you win a woman's heart? After Holland brings his small motherless daughter to his newly purchased estate in New South Wales, the two find themselves wandering the property and grand house seemingly without much purpose. But as the years pass, and as Ellen grows into a great beauty, Holland plants eucalyptus trees, every variety he can get, hundreds upon hundreds, virtually filling the once barren landscape with a 'museum of trees.' Meanwhile, Ellen's radiance becomes the talk of the town, the county, and the country, with her sun-dappled loveliness and isolation likened to those of a princess in a tower. Then, when she's almost 20, Holland devises a trial for suitors who want to win his daughter's hand in marriage, a presumably impossible test that will keep her close to him: each suitor must name and identify every tree on the property. And, of course, many fall by the wayside until a certain Mr. Cave shows up. An expert on eucalyptus trees, the serious-minded Cave seems a likely winner, trudging up and down the property with Holland, identifying the trees. Meanwhile, Ellen, who's come to hate the naming of trees, takes solace in the forest created for her, and there meets a mysterious young man. He tells Ellen stories, almost all of them centering on a father, a daughter, and the theme of misguided love. As Mr. Cave gets closer to identifying all the specimens, Ellen and the stranger's meetings become more erotic, the stories more urgent. Finally, just as Cave successfully concludes Holland's test, Ellen falls ill. It seems that only storytelling can remedy herdespondency.

From the Publisher
“There is such delight in Eucalyptus, such sly and swerving humor. Murray Bail is the warmest and most quick-witted of storytellers. You will never forget what is at the heart of this book."—Michael Ondaatje, author of the English Patient
"Peerless . . . Eucalyptus is a one-of-a-kind book. It leaves you hungering for more of its author's strange and spry imaginings."—The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466840584
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
08/21/2007
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
264
Sales rank:
568,668
File size:
0 MB

What People are saying about this

Howard Norman
Murray Bail is one of our great imaginers and most timeless storytellers. Eucalyptus has an uncanny, displacing beauty; displacing because a reader feels that New South Wales, for all its exotic mystery, is at the immediate center of one's existence.
Michael Ondaatje
There is such delight in Eucalyptus , such strange and sly and swerving humor. Murray Bail is the warmest and most quick-witted of story-tellers. You will never forget what is at the heart of this book-one of the great and most surprising courtships in literature.

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