On a property in western New South Wales, a man named Holland lives with his daughter, Ellen. Over the years, as she grows into a beautiful young woman, he plants hundreds of different eucalyptus trees. When Ellen is nineteen, Holland announces his decision: she may only marry the man who can correctly name the species of each & every gum tree on his property. Suitors emerge from all corners, including the straight-backed Mr. Cave, a world expert on these famous Australian trees. But one day, walking down by the river, where silver light slants into the motionless trunks, Ellen chances on a strange young man resting under the Coolibah tree. In the days that followed, he tells her dozens of stories - set in cities, deserts, & faraway countries. Eucalyptus is at once a modern fairy tale & a marvelously touching love story, played out against the spearing light & broken shadows of Australia - its land, its history, its people. The author's cunning, intricate, & mesmerizing narrative bristles with spiky truths & unexpected wisdom about art, feminine beauty, landscape, & language. More, it eloquently affirms the seductive power of storytelling itself.
New York : Farrar, Straus Giroux, c1998