Winner, Miles Franklin Award, 1999
Winner, Commonwealth Writers' Prize, 1999
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 his 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...
Awarded the Miles Franklin and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Eucalyptus is Murray Bail's best and most moving novel. It is both a modern fairy tale and an unpredictable love story played out against the spearing light and broken shadows of country Australia.Haunting and mesmeric, Eucalyptus illuminates the nature of story-telling itself.
‘A magical new novel—it leaves you hungering for more.’New York Times Book Review
‘A wonderful story brilliantly told—There is not a false note. A complex remembrance of individual eucalypts becomes part of the emotional fabric of a moving, exhilarating love story.’Australian
‘You will never forget what is at the heart of this book one of the great and most surprising courtships in literature.’Michael Ondaatje
‘Buy this book. You won’t have read anything like it.’Evening Standard
‘An astonishing achievement.’Independent Magazine
‘A book so fresh and strange that it is like no other…Eucalyptus is…a beautiful freestanding and audacious piece of experimental art. And if that sounds fearful, it is also a humane, smiling book full of the flat-voiced humour of country people who have a great twinkle of kindliness and kinship behind the tough exterior. It reminded me of very little else I had read except perhaps for Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera, though Eucalyptus is much less embellished and baroque…’Peter Craven, Australian Book Review