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Eucalyptus

Author: Bail, Murray Set In . . .
 Australia, New South Wales
Genre: Fiction
Time Frame: 2000s
Published: 1999
Description: A haunting and unexpected love story from one of Australia's finest writers.

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, filling in the landscape, making a virtual outdoor museum of trees. When Ellen is nineteen, Holland announces his decision: she may only marry 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. But 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 marvelously touching love story, played out against the spearing light and broken shadows of Australia--its land, its history, its people. Murray Bail's cunning, intricate, and mesmerizing narrative bristles with spiky truths and unexpected wisdom about art, feminine beauty, landscape, and language. More, it eloquently affirms the seductive power of storytelling itself.

  
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