A room made of leaves – review

Dear readers, I hope you and your families are well. I really appreciate all the comments you leave on my posts and the emails you send me – it’s lovely to know that our words are connecting us.

This week, I bring you a review from one of Australia’s great fiction and non-fiction writers – Kate Grenville. Kate has a writing career spanning decades and has recently published her 16th book.

Her latest novel is A room made of leaves, a historical novel set in Australia in the late 18th century. Kate positions herself, Kate Grenville, as the editor of Elizabeth Macarthur’s secret diary, which is a fictionalised account of Elizabeth’s story of moving to Australia and surviving life there despite her husband’s bullish behaviour and actions.

Kate wrote a letter to readers on the Text Publishing blog, explaining that she had her idea when she read five words in a letter from Elizabeth – I blush at my error. The words were so unlike the restrained, bland and polite letters which Elizabeth usually wrote home. Kate knew she had a story here.

And she does. It’s a wonderful, immersing read.

While A room made of leaves is all about Elizabeth McArthur with a scattering of minor female characters, it made me think about all the stories of other women who made a new life in Australia in the 1780s.

There’s a fabulous interview with Kate Mildenhall and Kate Grenville on The first time podcast. Kate will also appear in an interview this Sunday with the Yarra Valley Writers festival.

Happy reading and listening!

6 comments

  1. It’s amazing to think of how women adapt to enormous challenges. I love reading these stories based on real life events.

  2. I love historical fiction so will certainly try this one.
    Philippa Gregory is one of my favourite historical novelists.
    I love the way she weaves a story around real events and people.
    I’m sure Kate Grenville does the same.
    I’m almost finished The Dictionary of Lost Words and really enjoying it.

    1. I haven’t read any Philippa Gregory books, so will add her books to my to-be-read pile. Thanks, Kathy!

  3. I marvel at writers who take a few words “I blush at my error” and have the basis for a story. Certainly clever and creative.

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