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A Room Made of Leaves

by Kate Grenville

Book Club Recommendations 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.

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A Room Made of Leaves Synopsis

It is 1788. When twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth marries the proud, scarred soldier John Macarthur, she soon realises she has made a terrible mistake. Forced to travel with him to New South Wales, 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 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.

A Room Made of Leaves Press Reviews

An imaginative depiction of a relationship forged in the earliest days of the Australian colony . . . an engaging book -- ERICA WAGNER -

Guardian -

Elizabeth Macarthur manages her complicated life with spirit and passion, cunning and sly wit . . . Kate Grenville's return to the territory of The Secret River is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand by one of our most original writers -

Australian Arts Review -

Historical fiction at its best . . . breathtaking . . . [Elizabeth is a] plucky, sharp-minded young woman -

Good Housekeeping -

Evocative . . . [A] gorgeous, generous novel -

Sunday Express -

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 The absorbing story of a woman discovering herself in the vast expanse of a new world, told in rich, insightful prose -

Sunday Times -

Kate Grenville gives voice to this reticent woman, allowing her smart, sparky, shrewd heroine a chance at last to speak . . . eloquent [and] evocative -

Daily Mail -

Grenville cleverly uses Elizabeth's bland and pleasant missives home, showing that they were a carefully constructed fiction. The real Elizabeth - passionate, clever and endlessly resilient - is brilliantly conjured -

The Times -

Kate Grenville spins a delicately teasing novel about the inherent untrustworthiness of the official record . . . beautiful and subtle -

Financial Times -

Beautifully written, insistently eloquent and expressive of connection . . . [a] stunning literary achievement -

Guardian -

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781838851248
Publication date: 03/06/2021
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

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

Book Information

ISBN: 9781838851248
Publication date: 3rd June 2021
Author: Kate Grenville
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 336 pages
Genres: Book Club Recommendations, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Relationship Stories, Star Books,
Collections: Around the World in 80+ Historical Novels.,
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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