Monday, November 12, 2012

Eucalyptus, Murray Bail

We could begin with desertorum, common name Hooked Mallee. Its leaf tapers into a slender hook, and is normally found in semi-arid parts of the interior. 

This one is half a romance, half a fairy tale set in...Australia (as you might have guessed from the title.) It's the story of Holland and his daughter Ellen. They live in a property in western New South Wales. When Holland moved there, he began planting many types of eucalyptus trees, and found he could not stop. His collection kept growing and growing. Meanwhile, Ellen was growing into a beautiful young woman. When Ellen is nineteen, he announces that she may marry only the man who can correctly name all of the species of gum tree on his property.

Of course, the whole set-up is outlandish, but then, fairy tales aren't realistic. I'm interested in trees, though not eucalypt specifically. Bail just uses this as a tool for his writing. And the writing really is beautiful. It's unhurried, winding its way from one part of the story to the next, from one type of tree to the next.

Anyway, suitors come from all over Australia, and the region, including Mr. Cave, an expert on the trees. One day, Ellen finds a strange young man resting under the Coolibah tree. He tells her marvelous stories set in all sorts of places. That's where the book is at at about 105 pages in. (That's what I mean about the writing.) Then Ellen falls ill, and the young man must rescue her with his tales.

This was a beautiful little story, and I would definitely recommend it.

Read Eucalyptus:
  • if you like books set in Australia
  • if you are interested in eucalyptus trees
  • if you like romance
  • if you like fairly-tale-like books
255 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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