Eucalyptus by Murray Bail, 5 of 52

Last night our book group met for dinner at The Duke of Brunswick in Gilbert St, Adelaide. My Father grew up on the opposite side of the street and my Grandfather used to be a regular at the Duke, I would apparently appeal to him as a little tacker to go to the ‘beer shop’.  We certainly know how to pick perfect locations to discuss our current reading and wonderful lives we all live, dinner was delicious and lovely renovated surrounds. By main course we had gotten the low down on the intricacies of organising a joint 16th birthday party; read a Coromandel Times from the 1940s found under the old lino of a house, which featured a certain father as a best player of Aussie Rules for that weeks game; we’d explored our various injuries, achilles heels that may impact the trip of a lifetime to Europe to the swollen knee that just looks horrid (me!) but may actually be more than cosmetic! It can take a while for us to get onto the books.

Before we started, I announced to the group that I was writing a blog of each book I read and that I had set myself a challenge of 52 books in 52 weeks, they might even pop by here and read my reviews. On the night they all looked slightly stunned, but nonetheless very supportive. To put some context around this, I spent most of last year hardly getting through 1 book every 6 weeks due to work and University committments. So you can see that I am possibly being ambitious and whatsmore, blogging it!  In regards to our book club, I can probably say that I am the most up to date technologically… My frustration with technology ranges from trying to understand the ettiquette of Twitter, becoming bored with Facebook which is turning viral, and having fun experimenting with this blog. I realise that the kids will be way past me before long, as the 9 year old keeps cracking through the security of our home PC.  I also realise the possibilities that the online world offers and think it is important that I remain informed. Apart from all that, I also have a lot of fun! The other spectrum of our book club is my beautiful friend Sue, who I have known since I was 6 years of age. She is enormously proud of the fact that she does not have a mobile phone, I do envy her that tranquility to be sure. I am sure at some stage she will visit my blog to see what books I have reviewed, and she is actually very open to technology – just not that which isn’t relevant to her needs. It is a great source of amusement for all of us, to compare where we all sit along the technology continuum – me with. Books, however, we all stand equal in our regard of them, but again celebrate differences of opinions.

I have again consumed another book in record time. I did return to work this week and feel the creeping of work and life committments already affecting my reading stamina – so I am grateful that I have read 5 already. My 5th book Eucalyptus was simply a breath of fresh air, not a literary masterpiece, but it has such a creative energy I truly found myself taken away. Not completely away as this book is set in Australian country New South Wales, but much of it refers to my home town Adelaide in South Australia, and our surrounding country towns and river. It also evokes so much of Australia in the character of the land in the story. The countryside became for me one of the main characters in the story, so much of the story unfolded from the natural surrounds of the Eucalyptus tree – I could almost smell the astringent aroma of the Eucalyptus tree and the crunchy bark all over the dry parched ground.

The story of Eucalyptus centres around a man and his beautiful daughter, whom he promises the hand of marriage should any man be able to name every Eucalyptus tree he has on his property. He has hundreds of varieties of Eucalyptus, having devoted his life to the collection and propogation of the tree. The novel is taken on a delightful course when it appears a man will be successful in naming every tree, the daughter meets a mysterious person who has the most wonderful poetic and unusual stories that he relates to each tree. It is difficult to describe and would spoil the story, it isn’t a difficult read and the ending is imaginative. I could put it in the realms of a fairy story almost, like The Magic Pudding, but that would be wrong as the magic is merely made through the wonderful creation of characters.

I particularly liked the father-daughter relationship in the story, as the story progresses you see the effect on both the father and daughter of this challenge. The changing in their relationship, the difficulty in communicating feelings and the regrets of being in a situation that fails to live up to its initial appeal. Even though this is quite a convoluted scenario, there are many times in life where we can feel trapped in events that aren’t of our own making. The beauty in this story is the generosity of love that all the characters hold – even those characters who are slightly disagreeable and unlikeable. Some of these fabulous characters only hold a few paragraphs of the book.

This book will be attending our next Book Group gathering and I expect will be snatched up quickly.

Readability 9 out of 10

Cant put down rating 9 out of 10

Recommend to others 10 out of 10

Do I want to read another book by this author – yes

Book #6 The Science Minister & The Sea Cow; 13 essays on the nature of choice ed. Finlay Lloyd.

A word about this book and my challenge. Not all my books will be fiction, as I study and work I will be reading other non-fiction books of interest to myself and relevant to my research. I will also review those I think a worth reviewing. This will be an eclectic list by the end of 2010 and I plan nothing for future choices; just go with my impulse at the time.


3 thoughts on “Eucalyptus by Murray Bail, 5 of 52

  1. Hi Carlolyn. Jane told me about this blog earlier tonight after I was sharing my delight in her simmering memories blog. It seems that blogging is the new thing to do 🙂 I reckon I’ll just have to be content to post the odd comment!
    I’m glad you loved this book. My Adelaide book club did this many years ago and I remember being absolutely mesmorised by the story. I’m so looking forward to your next posts – it would appear that you have a little catching up to do? Perhaps a few school readers could be thrown in for good measure or, God forbid, Twilight which my darling daughter consumed in a matter of hours!

    1. Hey Em, thanks for reading my little blog and for commenting. Just me mucking around having a bit of fun! Yes, well the goal is well and truly off target now…but I have some thrilling anthropology books to critique soon. I’m thinking a few Thomas the Tank Engines would be in order! In regards to twilight – I think that resistance is becoming futile and I will have to submit soon.
      Yes, love Jane’s blog – haven’t had a chance to try any recipes yet, but definitely will.
      See you soon. xx

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