Murray Bail

Text Publishing 1998
A book review by Danny Yee © 2003
When Holland's wife dies in childbirth and an insurance payment makes him wealthy, he buys a farm outside a small town in western New South Wales, where he plants eucalypts, collecting hundreds of different species from all over the country. His daughter Ellen grows up to be a beautiful young woman, but Holland imposes a daunting test on would-be suitors: correctly naming all the eucalypts on his property.

Many try and fail, but eventually one suitor, Mr Cave, seems to be on his way to success. As he works his way through the trees, however, another man, who might or might not also be a suitor, tells Ellen stories — or rather fragments of stories, ranging from whole chapters to single paragraphs, left not quite finished or otherwise dangling. His stories are connected with eucalypts, but are about courtships or marriages, and constitute a kind of courtship in themselves. What will Ellen do?

A love story, or rather a mosaic of love stories, Eucalyptus is an Australian fairy tale. Along with its stories, it includes narratorial digressions — on eucalypts, but also on aspects of Australian history, culture, and national identity. The more overt passages, however, are often less successful than the storytelling: Eucalyptus is Australian not only in subject material but in style and feeling, a splendid celebration of landscapes both natural and cultural.

April 2003

External links:
- buy from or
- review and links at the Complete Review
Related reviews:
- Murray Bail - Homesickness
- Murray Bail - The Pages
- more Australian + New Zealand literature
- more romance
- books published by Text Publishing
%T Eucalyptus
%A Bail, Murray
%I Text Publishing
%D 1998
%O paperback
%G ISBN 1875847944
%P 255pp