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Our August 2020 Book Club Recommendation.
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.
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.
Closing date: 31/01/2021
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
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
Publication date: 06/08/2020
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
|Publication date:||6th August 2020|
|Publisher:||Canongate Books Ltd|
|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,|
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 ...More About Kate Grenville