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Eucalyptus by Murray Bail
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Eucalyptus (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Murray Bail

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1,1164113,817 (3.54)84
On a property in western New South Wales a man named Holland lives with his daughter, Ellen. Over the years, as she grows into a beautiful young woman, he plants hundreds of different eucalyptus trees on his land, filling in the landscape, making a virtual outdoor museum of trees. When Ellen is nineteen, he announces his decision: she may marry only the man who can correctly name the species of each and every gum tree on his property. Suitors emerge from all corners, including the straight-backed Mr. Cave, a world expert on these famous Australian trees. And then one day, walking down by the river where silver light slants into the motionless trunks, Ellen chances on a strange young man resting under the Coolibah tree. In the days that follow, he tells her dozens of stories - set in cities, deserts, and faraway countries.Eucalyptus is at once a modern fairy tale and a touching love story, played out against the spearing light and broken shadows of Australia - its land, its history, its people.… (more)
Member:Sirch
Title:Eucalyptus
Authors:Murray Bail
Info:Melbourne : Text Publishing, 1998.
Collections:Your library
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Eucalyptus by Murray Bail (1998)

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» See also 84 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
I suspect that this book has fallen between two stools: if you're looking for a classic love story, you're likely to be annoyed that the plot gets going by having a man offer his daughter to any man who can name all the species of gum tree on his property. If you're looking for clever reflections on anything, you're likely to be irritated by the cheesiness of the courtship and the extra, super-duper cheesiness of the conclusion. I am of the latter. Other reasons to be annoyed by Murray Bail wasting his significant talents on this book:

i) The daughter, while given some kind of interior life, is also, like, SO BEAUTIFUL. Because aren't all fictional women.
ii) Where some of Bail's opposites-in-tension books at least try to pretend that there are two sides to the opposition (psychology vs philosophy, for instance), this one falls into the worst kind of heart is more important than head cliche.
iii) The winning-her-heart-with-stories plot only works if the stories are good, and these stories are mostly dull love stories. Consistent, but still, Bail can do better.

I did learn, at least, some things about Eucalypts. And I learned that, just as I love Kitty more than Anna Karenina, and every other plain-but-kind sidekick of every dangerous-but-beautiful protagonist, so too I love the male version of Kitty more than the female version of Anna, a lesson I had previously learned by watching an adaptation of Middlemarch. I found Casaubon's downfall very sad. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
A most unusual book. It went through several stages of writing style for me. A bit slow getting into. It revived my interest in eucalypts and I would side track myself looking up the species he mentioned.
The latter part of the book was like 'One Thousand and One Nights' (or 'Arabian Nights'), fascinating.
I'm deliberately not giving anything away. I thoroughly enjoyed it but the was one in our book group who could not get into it. ( )
  GeoffSC | Jul 25, 2020 |
I was given this by Kirsten after she’d spent some time wandering around the suburban streets in our area. They still feature many beautiful specimens of the eucalyptus, developers and other anti-tree people not withstanding. It would help me know them, she said.

This is a botanic guide, embedded with a fairy story, which, like all fairy stories, I guess, is hard to pin down. I felt like it was ‘olden’ and yet from time to time modernity sneaks in. Did this matter? Probably not, maybe it’s the point, fairy stories can be now.

Spoiler….

I was scared this was going to be some sort of modern anti-fairy story with an unhappy ending. But that isn’t the case! All that exquisite writing by Bail comes together in an ending which will please any lover of fairy tales. For whom this book is highly recommended. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
I was given this by Kirsten after she’d spent some time wandering around the suburban streets in our area. They still feature many beautiful specimens of the eucalyptus, developers and other anti-tree people not withstanding. It would help me know them, she said.

This is a botanic guide, embedded with a fairy story, which, like all fairy stories, I guess, is hard to pin down. I felt like it was ‘olden’ and yet from time to time modernity sneaks in. Did this matter? Probably not, maybe it’s the point, fairy stories can be now.

Spoiler….

I was scared this was going to be some sort of modern anti-fairy story with an unhappy ending. But that isn’t the case! All that exquisite writing by Bail comes together in an ending which will please any lover of fairy tales. For whom this book is highly recommended. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
I was given this by Kirsten after she’d spent some time wandering around the suburban streets in our area. They still feature many beautiful specimens of the eucalyptus, developers and other anti-tree people not withstanding. It would help me know them, she said.

This is a botanic guide, embedded with a fairy story, which, like all fairy stories, I guess, is hard to pin down. I felt like it was ‘olden’ and yet from time to time modernity sneaks in. Did this matter? Probably not, maybe it’s the point, fairy stories can be now.

Spoiler….

I was scared this was going to be some sort of modern anti-fairy story with an unhappy ending. But that isn’t the case! All that exquisite writing by Bail comes together in an ending which will please any lover of fairy tales. For whom this book is highly recommended. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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We could begin with desertorum, common name Hooked Mallee.
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On a property in western New South Wales a man named Holland lives with his daughter, Ellen. Over the years, as she grows into a beautiful young woman, he plants hundreds of different eucalyptus trees on his land, filling in the landscape, making a virtual outdoor museum of trees. When Ellen is nineteen, he announces his decision: she may marry only the man who can correctly name the species of each and every gum tree on his property. Suitors emerge from all corners, including the straight-backed Mr. Cave, a world expert on these famous Australian trees. And then one day, walking down by the river where silver light slants into the motionless trunks, Ellen chances on a strange young man resting under the Coolibah tree. In the days that follow, he tells her dozens of stories - set in cities, deserts, and faraway countries.Eucalyptus is at once a modern fairy tale and a touching love story, played out against the spearing light and broken shadows of Australia - its land, its history, its people.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1875847944, 1921351691

 

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