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Book DetailsISBN: 9781875847945
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Book Review: Eucalyptus by Murray Bail - Reviewed by CloggieA (15 Feb 2014)
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.
Murray Bail was born in Adelaide in 1941. Homesickness, his first novel, won the National Book Award for Australian Literature and the Melbourne Age Book of the Year Award. Holden's Performance, first published in 1988, won the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction. Eucalyptus was the winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Murray Bail's non-fiction includes an acclaimed monograph on the work of the painter Ian Fairweather and Longhand, A Writer's Notebook.
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