On a country property 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 gum trees on his land. When Ellen is nineteen her father announces his decision: she will marry the man who can name all the species of eucalypt, down to the last tree. Suitors emerge from all corners, including the formidable, straight-backed Mr Cave, world expert on the varieties of eucalypt. And then, walking among her father's trees, Ellen chances on a strange young man who in the days that follow tells her dozens of stories set in cities, deserts, faraway countries....
Haunting and mesmerising, Eucalyptus illuminates the nature of storytelling itself.
©1998 Murray Bail (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"...[I]t's a pleasure simply to be immersed in Bail's caprice-prone mind." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Curious power is precisely what this novel delivers. Part of its charm is its style, the quirky sentences that rarely go where we expect, the sinister Arthur Machenesque beauty of the landscape descriptions, the meandering stories that fail to deliver their expected allegories, that never really end but instead begin others." (The Washington Post)
"One of the great and most surprising courtships in literature." (Michael Ondaatje)
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"A joy to listen"
Very unusual story. There was not a huge plot ... Just beautiful writing that meanders till the end. I will be looking for more from this author... And the narrator was perfect.
One is discombobulated until the very end, when palpably relieved by the revelation of some prior prestidigitation.
"COULDN'T BE SAVED"
After ploughing through the first 4 Chapters, I realised that the even the best Voiceover Actor in the business (Humphrey Bower) couldn't save this book.
It was slow moving and boring in the extreme. Indeed, it felt like attending a schoolboy lecture in botany.
"A speckled maiden and many trees"
The lyrical, poetic and very Australian story has a magic to it. It is layered with stories that gently unfold and tell about the history of people and eucalypts.
There is a reverence for beauty and no nonsense truth.
"The narrator ruined this book for me."
A less dispassionate narrator; one who puts more expression and feeling into the work.
He read too slowly, and there was very little expression in his voice. It was delivered in a flat, unemotional style. This was not engaging and I quickly lost interest in the story.
Eucalyptus has an intriguing plot and I liked learning about all the different types of gum trees. I didn't like the way the female character seemed to be helplessly under the spell of the male character, and the endless stories he told seemed to have little to do with each other or anything in the novel. It was a bit like watching one unrelated youtube clip after another, and having your brain fill up with meaningless images. Perhaps this was partly because of the way it was narrated.
The narrator is also a respected theatre actor and director, and perhaps in this context he is very good at what he does. In this audiobook, however, and in others that I've listened to samples of, he does not have a captivating voice, nor does he give life to the stories he tells. A very disappointing experience.
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