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 on his land, filling in the landscape, making a virtual outdoor museum of trees. When Ellen in nineteen, he announces his decision; she may marry only the man who can correctly name the species of each and 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. And then 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 follow, he tells her dozens of stories-set in cities, deserts, and faraway countries
Eucalyptus is at once a modern fairy tale and a marvelously touching love story, played out against the spearing light and broken shadows of Australia- its land, its history, its people.
To meet Allegra O’Riordan of Chicago, you’d think she was like anyone else- a modern single woman in her thirties; a more or less lapsed Catholic; more or less gainfully employed; urban, independent, irreverent, and smart. But there’s a hole in her life, and it doesn’t really show until, going through her late father’s effects, she comes upon a photograph of her mother. Now, her mother was a prim, unsmiling woman who died when she was three. But this is something- someone- else, a laughing, beautiful, sexy girl, who inscribed the picture to someone Allegra’s never heard of.
Astonished and intrigued, she returns to her hometown of Los Angeles to find out more about this mother of hers, only to be met with smiles and evasions and a definite sense that people are keeping something from her- and of course, that only makes her more determined to find out what it is, even though she’s beginning to suspect she’s not going to like it one little bit…
Meg Landry expected it to be a day like any other- her asthmatic eight-year-old son would step off the bus home from school. But on this day, the boy on the bus doesn’t seem to be Meg’s son. Though he shares Charlie’s copper hair, tea-brown eyes, and slight frame, there is something profoundly, if indefinably, different about him. In the wake of Meg’s quiet alarm, her far-flung family returns home and unease sets in. Neither Charlie’s father not Charlie’s rebellious teenage sister can help Meg settle the question of the boy. They look to her for certainty- after all, shouldn’t a mother know her child?
Julia and Valentina Poole are semi-normal American twenty-year-olds with seemingly little interest ion college or finding jobs. Their attachment to one another is intense. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. From a London solicitor, the enclosed letter informs Valentina and Julia that their English aunt Elspeth Noblin, whom they never knew, has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions to this inheritance: that they live in it for a year before they sell it and that there parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the estranged Elspeth and Edie, their mother.
The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders the vast and ornate Highgate cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Radclyffe Hall, Stella Gibbons and Karl Marx are buried. Julia and Valentina come to know the living residents of their building. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword-puzzle setter suffering from crippling obsessive compulsive disorder; Marijke, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s illusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including- perhaps- their aunt.
What do you think of my loot this week? Anything you’ve read that you are raving about- or not? Or, does anything look interesting to you. Let me know what you think!