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A Room Made of Leaves

by Kate Grenville

Book Club Recommendations Books of the Month Family Drama Historical Fiction Literary Fiction Relationship Stories Star Books

LoveReading View on A Room Made of Leaves

Our August 2020 Book Club Recommendation.

Click here to see our Reading Group Questions.

Glorious! A novel of such startling sincerity, clarity and eloquence it feels as though the narrator herself is stamped onto every page. A Room Made of Leaves is inspired by letters and documents on entrepreneur and pioneer John Macarthur and his wife Elizabeth. They left England in 1788 for New South Wales in Australia when he was posted as Lieutenant to the penal colony of Sydney Town. This is Kate Grenville’s first novel in a decade, she is the author of the 2006 Man Booker shortlisted novel The Secret River. Elizabeth narrates, headstrong and wilful she nonetheless finds she is folding herself smaller and smaller in order to not be observed. Each chapter may be short but they are full of suppressed emotion, candour, and are as compelling as can be. The chapter headings, if all joined together, would create a story in themselves. As each word, as each sentence and chapter flowers, the inner being of Elizabeth opened to allow me to see, and also feel her emotions. The cover is gorgeous and the understanding of the title when it came, made the beauty resonate all the more. Australia is obviously much loved, and I in turn loved reading between the lines of history. Unique and spirited, A Room Made of Leaves truly is a beautiful novel, it also deservedly joins our LoveReading Star Books.

Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for A Room Made of Leaves.

Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Liz Robinson

A Room Made of Leaves Synopsis

It is 1788. Twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth is hungry for life but, as the ward of a Devon clergyman, knows she has few prospects. When proud, scarred soldier John Macarthur promises her the earth one midsummer's night, she believes him.

But Elizabeth soon realises she has made a terrible mistake. Her new husband is reckless, tormented, driven by some dark rage at the world. He tells her he is to take up a position as Lieutenant in a New South Wales penal colony and she has no choice but to go. Sailing for six months to the far side of the globe with a child growing inside her, she arrives to find Sydney Town a brutal, dusty, hungry place of makeshift shelters, failing crops, scheming and rumours.

All her life she has learned to be obliging, to fold herself up small. Now, in the vast landscapes of an unknown continent, Elizabeth has to discover a strength she never imagined, and passions she could never express.

Inspired by the real life of a remarkable woman, this is an extraordinarily rich, beautifully wrought novel of resilience, courage and the mystery of human desire.

Win Our Next Set of 2020 LoveReading Star Books!

Win Our Next Set of 2020 LoveReading Star Books!

Closing date: 31/01/2021

We're continuing our 2020 Star Books giveaways!  We have launched a brand new competition for you to win the next batch of LoveReading 2020 Star Books. The most recent additions to our LoveReading Books of the Year 2020. As you may well know, we have a section of our site where we proudly display our Star Books – the books that really stand out from the crowd of the thousands of books published and the hundreds of books we select and read every year here at Team LoveReading. Books up for grabs The Englishman by David Gilman When She Was Good by Michael Robotham Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville People Like Us by Louise Fein The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard Slow Road to San Francisco by David Reynolds The Weight of Small Things by Julie Lancaster Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman Silver by Chris Hammer The Innocents by Michael Crummey How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith Born Killers? by Kris Mohandie City of Margins by William Boyle Only Us by Stuart Dunn This draw is open only for UK residents currently in the UK and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. The draw closes on 31st January 2021. Please ensure that the details you use to enter the competition will be correct at the time the competition ends. The winners will be notified as soon as possible.

Enter Now

A Room Made of Leaves Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

A sweeping, moving novel which brings to life a period of history where women were seen as no more than adjacent to the men in their life. Full review

Rachel Bridgeman

A Room Made of Leaves is a beautifully told story that shines a light on someone who was previously left as a rather translucent figure by history. Full review

Charlotte Walker

A Room Made of Leaves Press Reviews

Here is someone who can really write -- PETER CAREY A magnificent novel - an unflinching exploration of modern Australia's origins - New Yorker 

A rich novel of character - Sunday Telegraph 

Sumptuous . . . Brilliantly atmospheric - Independent on Sunday 

Beautifully written - Financial Times 

A vivid and moving portrayal of poverty, struggle and the search for peace - Independent 

This is a novel everyone should read - Irish Times 

Splendidly paced, passionate and disturbing - The Times 

Praise for The Secret River: An outstanding study of cultures in collision . . . a chilling, meticulous account of the sorrows and evils of colonialism . . . Kate Grenville is a sophisticated writer - Guardian

Vivid, lyrical and engrossing. Both authentic and imaginative, the voice of the female narrator quietly challenges not only conventional historical narratives but our whole idea of what history is about -- ALICE JOLLY

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781838851231
Publication date: 06/08/2020
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781838851231
Publication date: 6th August 2020
Author: Kate Grenville
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 336 pages
Genres: Book Club Recommendations, Books of the Month, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Relationship Stories, Star Books,
Collections: 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction - Women’s Words, 30 Novels Featuring The Lands Down Under, Our Favourite Books of 2020,
Categories: Historical fiction,

About Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville was born in Sydney. Her most recent novel, The Idea of Perfection, won the Orange Prize for Fiction and became a long-running bestseller. Her five other works of fiction have won numerous awards. Kate Grenville lives in Sydney with her family.   Fellow novelist ANNE BERRY on KATE GRENVILLE Quite honestly words fail me when it comes to Kate Grenville’s Secret River. It stands alone. It is exemplary. We are whisked away from England in the company of convicted criminal William Thornhill and his wife, Sal, to a convict colony in Sydney, Australia. It is there ...

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