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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  4,839 ratings  ·  393 reviews
The gruff widower Holland has two possessions he cherishes above all others:

his sprawling property of eucalyptus trees and his ravishingly beautiful daughter, Ellen.

When Ellen turns nineteen Holland makes an announcement: she may marry only the man who can correctly name the species of each of the hundreds of gum trees on his property.

Ellen is uninterested in the many s
Paperback, 264 pages
Published September 2nd 1999 by Mariner Books (first published 1998)
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Laura I wasn't as much puzzled by this book as I was by the positive praises concerning this book... To me it seemed as if the author was experimenting with…moreI wasn't as much puzzled by this book as I was by the positive praises concerning this book... To me it seemed as if the author was experimenting with a "modern" and "edgy" writing style, but the story ended up being extremely dull... I wanted to drop reading it at least 3 times, but sticked to it because my last year's promise was to read at least one book each month, and this was the only book I read that month...(less)

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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  4,839 ratings  ·  393 reviews

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Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found this to be an enjoyable modern day fairy tale written in a rather unusual way. The prose is outstandingly beautiful and needs to be read slowly and carefully but at the same time the central story demands the reader's attention and there is an urgency to get to the end and find out what happens! Then the author introduces a character who tells stories. These are necessary to the overall story but at the same time I was a little annoyed at having to take constant diversions. But then ther ...more
Nov 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
Nothing else, I guess Eucalyptus lives up to its title. It’s about a man whose wife dies while giving birth to their daughter. The man collects the life insurance, moves to a small town in western New South Wales, and plants eucalypts… lots of them. Apparently there are over 200 specie of this plant. Once his daughter is of a marriageable age he makes an Atalantan (as in the golden apple/race myth) deal to marry her off to the first suitor who can name all the various eucalypts on his land. That ...more
Oct 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Australians? Botanists?
Recommended to Ceecee by: that misleading blurb
There go those blurbs again, tricking me into thinking that I could actually enjoy the book.

"Best courtship story", it said. "New York Times Notable Book of the Year", it said.

Holland acquires a land, and then eventually becomes obsessed with planting eucalyptus trees in it. His daughter, Ellen, grows up to be a beauty, and he decides he will let the man who can name all species of eucalypti in his land marry his daughter. Dozens of suitors tried to no avail. Until Ellen meets a mysterious man u
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lyn Elliott
Jan 2015:
I've recently read this for the third time and relished the opportunity to slow down and enjoy Bail's language, and the slow and intricate windings of the multiple stories which make up this treasure of a book.
The main narrative line is a clever and gentle adaptation of a traditional folk tale form transformed in its relocation to an isolated Australian farm. The seemingly impossible quest set by a father for suitors of his daughter is to name all the Eucalyptus trees he has planted on
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who like Eucalyptus trees.
“A person meets thousands of different people across a lifetime, a woman thousands of different men, of all shades, and many more if she constantly passes through different parts of the world. Even so, of the many different people a person on average meets it is rare for one to fit almost immediately in harmony and general interest. For all the choices available the odds are enormous.The miracle is there to be grasped.”
― Murray Bail, Eucalyptus
Dec 22, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-ebook
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Eucalyptus is a fairy tale and contains all the elements you would expect in a fairy tale, recast in a rural Australian setting – there’s mythical beauty, a princess trapped in her castle, suitors from distant lands and an enchanted forest. Whether it’s the Australian setting or Bail’s cleverly created characters, the story comes across as wholly believable (which in itself is magical).

Each chapter is named after a species of eucalypt and includes a string of short, intricate and seemingly inco
Jun 18, 2007 rated it did not like it
2 hour trip to botanical gardens: fun and interesting.
200 page book about every eucalyptus known to man: dreadful.

woman allowing father to marry her off to stranger who wins an insufferable tree-naming contest... a fairy tale: quaint. modern society: substantially irritating.
This peculiar, unique book really appealed to me, and when I finished, I considered starting it all over again.

It's a physically short book (I don't know how many words), but the mix of short anecdotes, little stories and botanical information that pop up unexpectedly actually don't interrupt the flow of the main story, they add depth.

I'm never going to remember all the interesting bits - I WILL have to read it again someday.

Disclaimer: I have lived among the eucalypts of NSW for most of my a
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was given this by Kirsten after she’d spent some time wandering around the suburban streets in our area. They still feature many beautiful specimens of the eucalyptus, developers and other anti-tree people not withstanding. It would help me know them, she said.

This is a botanic guide, embedded with a fairy story, which, like all fairy stories, I guess, is hard to pin down. I felt like it was ‘olden’ and yet from time to time modernity sneaks in. Did this matter? Probably not, maybe it’s the po
My Reading Days
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Oh this book disappointed me. I read the first half with such joy - looking up each Eucalyptus tree mentioned in my tree reference book and enjoying the planting of all of these trees as if I was there. And then we moved into the supposed love story and that was when I realised that the lovely tree talk was the only thing holding me to this book.

The major lack of character depth is my real problem with this book. And because I felt like I didn't know the whys behind the two main characters, I di
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a reread for me and I loved it just as much as I did some years ago when I first read it. Funny and charming - it is entrancing. I can't recommend it highly enough. ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, australia
Lovely gentle story.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very nice read. The story almost gets lost in the stories. A book like Damascus Nights by Rafik Schami where the stories teach us about the character. I enjoyed this a lot. ...more
Nicole P
I learnt more about the different types of eucalypti than I thought possible. Interesting modern day fairytale. Struggled to follow at times with the constant changing POVs.
Heather Pearson
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Heather by: borrowed from my sister Shelley
Several years ago, a good friend in Australia sent me a package of Bush Tea. When I opened it, the pack contained a number of bags of black tea and a bunch of eucalyptus leaves. The idea being to brew a pot of tea and add a leaf to the pot. These were about 4 inch long skinny leaves. I have no idea what type of eucalyptus they were from, but there sure were aromatic. I loved the tea. No one else in my house did, so I didn't have to share.

Shortly after relating this story to my sister, so sent me
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eucalyptus is the third novel by prize-winning Australian author, Murray Bail. A man called Holland comes into money and buys a property in NSW, west of Sydney. The previous owners spent much time clearing paddocks (“On the curvaceous back paddocks great gums slowly bleached and curled against the curve as trimmings of fingernails. Here and there bare straight trunks lay scattered and angled like a catastrophe of derailed carriages.”), but Holland soon changed that.

His young daughter, Ellen, ca
Angela Young
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A friend of mine recommended this book to me because she knows just how much I love stories within stories. And I loved it. It's a fable, or a fairy story, but in the real sense (not airy-fairy but psychologically accurate about the way we are which is, of course, the reason so-called fairy tales have lasted down the ages). And the fact that the young woman's suitor has to earn his right to ask for her hand by learning the names and attributes of one hundred different kinds of eucalyptus makes f ...more
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is beautifully written. However, I imagine that the aspects of this book that I found whimsical and charming may seem dull and arduous to those that are not biologist or lovers of the Australian landscape. If you are neither of these, I invoke you to work past these to find an enchanting story. I particularly loved the stories told within the main story.
Laura Walin
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not an easy read. In the beginning I did not appreciate the style jumping here and there and requiring an immense amount of concentration to follow the story. But somehow it all came together in the middle, when the stories took over and were better woven into the main plot. And thank you Murray Bail for the ending, anything else would have been a disappointment.
Nov 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
The author obviously knows nothing of women. I personally do not know of any women who stand around naked holding their breasts all the time. I mean all the time!! And what is this fascination with peeing? I mean really! I did not like this book at all! And by the end you would think that maybe the ending would even be a bit satisfying? Nope!
Deborah Sheldon
Have I just been pranked? For tree-lovers only.
Justin Evans
May 14, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I suspect that this book has fallen between two stools: if you're looking for a classic love story, you're likely to be annoyed that the plot gets going by having a man offer his daughter to any man who can name all the species of gum tree on his property. If you're looking for clever reflections on anything, you're likely to be irritated by the cheesiness of the courtship and the extra, super-duper cheesiness of the conclusion. I am of the latter. Other reasons to be annoyed by Murray Bail wast ...more
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: listening
I listened to this book. I really enjoyed listening to it, but I don't think I would have kept up with it had I read it. It did remind me of the beauty of the Eucalyptus and that I need a few more up in the backyard. The Corymbia (Eucalyptus) ficifolia is flowering around Wodonga at the moment; I think I will have to plant a few.

Years ago, I'm talking 1989 so my memory is a little sketchy, I travelled a few countries with a couple of mates. We spent 2 days in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. I don't recall
May 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I spent most of this book wishing I had someone there to explain it to me. As it was, I think I got about a fourth of what the author was trying to say. Bail doesn't ever just say something, first he tells a story or gives a detailed description of a specific eucalyptus tree, and expects you to extrapolate. When he was telling stories they were odd; a man who spends his life planting every kind of eucalyptus, a girl who is beautiful because she is covered in moles... And like all of the stories ...more
Mike Histand
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dede
Recommended to Mike by: dede
A delightful story of stories built around a collection of eucalypti on a spread in NSW. Part adult fairy tale but full of tales many of which get lopped at the tip. For some reason a forward momentum prevails in the telling and the reader lurches into a series of truncated tales from the enigmatic story teller. Wonderful images intertwine with the genus and species names of eucalypts as various visitors endeavor to identify the trees to acquire the hand of the lovely spotted daughter of the col ...more
Aug 18, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Normally fables are compelling because they have a sort of magic that rivets us. In this case , soon enough ( too soon) the magic runs out and what we thought it was an interesting premise ( to win the hand of a freckled beauty , the suitor has to name all the eucalypts planted in her father´s property) becomes a dull tale. Such a pity. I was really expecting something more from this novel...
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
There were many lovely things about this book, and it certainly takes the reader to a place (Australian outback) very effectively. However I found the female character to be tiresomely passive ....and a real drag on the plot, and so the three stars.
Geoff Wooldridge
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to love Eucalyptus by Murray Bail. After all, what could be more Australian than a book about gum trees, eucalypts, a rural setting and the story of a young girl growing up in relative isolation with a father obsessed by his trees.

As much as I loved the writing, the premise for the novel was pretty thin. A man with a daughter approaching marriageable age, a father wanting to protect his daughter from the wiles of men with less than honorable intentions, sets a stern test for the
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Murray Bail (born 22 September 1941) is an Australian writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction.

He was born in Adelaide, South Australia. He has lived most of his life in Australia except for sojourns in India (1968–70) and England and Europe (1970–74). He currently lives in Sydney.

He was trustee of the National Gallery of Australia from 1976 to 1981, and wrote a book on Australian artist Ia

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“A person meets thousands of different people across a lifetime, a woman thousands of different men, of all shades, and many more if she constantly passes through different parts of the world. Even so, of the many different people a person on average meets it is rare for one to fit almost immediately in harmony and general interest. For all the choices available the odds are enormous.The miracle is there to be grasped.” 7 likes
“Some people, some nations, are permanently in shade. Some people cast a shadow. Lengths of elongated darkness precede them, even in church or when the sun is in, as they say, mopped up by the dirty cloth of the could. A puddle of dark forms around their feet. It's very pine like. The pine and darkness are one. Eucalypts are unusual in this respect: set pendulously their leaves allow see-through foliage which in turn produces a frail patterned sort of shade, if at all. Clarity, lack of darkness-these might be called 'eucalyptus qualities'.” 4 likes
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