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Eucalyptus
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The gruff widower Holland has two possessions he cherishes above all others: his sprawling property of eucalyptus trees and his ravishingly beautiful daughter, Ellen. When Ellen turns nineteen Holland makes an announcement: she may marry only the man who can correctly name the species of each of the hundreds of gum trees on his property. Ellen is uninterested in the many suitors who arrive from around the world, until one afternoon she chances on a strange, handsome young man resting under a Coolibah tree. In the days that follow, he spins dozens of tales set in cities, deserts, and faraway countries. As the contest draws to a close, Ellen and the stranger's meetings become more erotic, the stories more urgent. Murray Bail's rich narrative is filled with unexpected wisdom about art, feminine beauty, landscape, and language. Eucalyptus is a shimmering love story that affirms the beguiling power of storytelling itself.