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Paperback, Sep 2 1999
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Gifts for Grads

Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 2 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156007819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156007818
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,776,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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By H. Gale on April 30 2003
Format: Paperback
Mainly a book of stories that wind around a plot, but for some reason, it works. It is about a girl named Ellen whose father is obsessed with his eucalyptus trees on a paddock in Australia. To find a husband for his daughter, he holds a contest: anyone who can name ALL of the species of eucalyptus on the property can have Ellen's hand. Many fail, but one who is kind and charming, but slightly arrogant, makes his first obligation naming the trees with her father; he barely pays Ellen any mind. The other man tries to win Ellen herself - the trees are secondary. He courts her by giving each tree a story, which makes up the better part of the book.
There is an airy feel to the story that makes it have a fairytale quality. I almost set it down halfway through because of its lack of substance. At points, it feels almost forced - like the author has to try very hard to get the tone he wants and only just makes it. The last half, howver, makes up for the beginning, though with facinating stories about imperfect people. It is a good attempt at a good idea, and that makes it worth the read.
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By "abidjanhogan2" on Nov. 28 2002
Format: Paperback
I first read this book several years ago after my husband gave it to me. At first, I wasn't sure I liked it, but I continued to read it and ended up loving it. Yes, the story uses eucalyptus trees as a tool to wrap the story around, and no, I'm not really interested in trees, but that's not the point. Mr Bail tells a beautiful tale of a father and daughter and their relationship. Of course, this story isn't 'believable' because few of us, if any, have heard lately of a real father requiring a man to name all the trees on his property before being allowed to marry his daughter. How silly! And yet what a wonderful outline for a fairy tale. Fairy tales usually are 'unbelievable'. Who really has 'ugly step-sisters' or ever saw a frog turn into a prince after kissing the princess, or knew a girl who fell in love with a hideous beast? This is a story! The father is oblivious to his daughter's desires and doesn't even know who she is at all. Yet she is precious to him and he requires what may be an impossible task of the man who will 'take' her from him. I think that's a noble, if outdated, emotion in a father. She meets the man of her dreams, almost dies because she will be forced to marry a man she could never love, and is brought back to life by her lover. She falls under his spell because of the odd, enchanting stories he tells her. Of course the stories have no endings, but they are tales that spark her interest and imagination. I found those little pieces of stories fascinating. All women should be so fortunate that they can be made so happy with simple tales told by the man they love. So, I recommended this book to my latest book group, not sure if I or they would find it as wonderful as I remembered it. I did, but we have not yet gotten together to discuss this book. I expect some people will hate it and others, I hope, will see the beauty I found in it.
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Format: Paperback
This is the story of Holland and his daughter Ellen. Holland buys a property in the West of New South Wales, and starts to cover it with as many variations of the Eucalyptus tree that he can get his hands on. When Ellen comes of age, he decides that the man who marries her will be the man that can name every Eucalyptus on his property.
Now, this might not sound like much of a premise for a good story, but Bail manages to infuse it with a certain quality - it is almost like magical realism, but in a very Australian spirit. This lyrical story manages to encapsulate wonderful descriptions, both overt and covert, of the Australian landscape both outback and urban; and it also manages to provide descriptions of some wonderful characters that are really caricatures of Australian society. Even the Eucalyptus are given wonderfully descriptive passages that make you feel that they are almost as much characters in the story as the people. And within it all, Bail manages a tender, yet not 'gooey' love story. To the very close of the story (it did not feel like an ending at all) Bail held me captivated.
I would have thought that the very Australianness of this book would be a hurdle for foreign readers, yet reviewers around the globe have given it glowing praise. Eucalyptus is a difficult book to describe, but a very easy book to read. I think it would appeal to a wide range of readers - i suggest that if you have any desire at all to read it that you pick it up, and give it at least to half way through before judging it. I think many readers will be pleasantly surprised with this poetic story of a father, a daughter, her suitors and a lot of gum trees.
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By Tom Munro on Dec 8 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is simply painful nonsense. A man demands that his daughter's suitors identify large numbers of trees on his farming property before one of them can win her hand. Many suitors turn up and fail in their task. The woman in question is said to have her face covered in black moles yet her beauty attracts men from as far away as New Zealand. At the climax (this word is used loosely) of the book one man is able to slowly reveal the names of the trees. At a the same time a tedious bore tells thousands of stories so lacking in interest and punch lines that any reader must be tempted to gnaw his arm of because of pure boredom.
The book seems to be set in the fifties as some of the characters have been through the Second World War. Even in the fifties country girls wouldn't allow their father to sell them of in an arranged marriage. No father would be so obsessed with trees that he would see it as the true indication of the man for his girl. In fact one would imagine that some medical professionals would be willing to put the father in a small hospital to rest and receive medical treatment.
The characters in the book are all two-dimensional and have no connection with reality. None of them talk about what normal people talk about, that is their jobs their aspirations their football teams or the latest film they have seen. Instead they tell stories. The father is meant to be some sort of farmer. Anyone who knows farmers knows that their jobs are backbreaking and time consuming. That most of their conversation and interest is in their work. With this character it is impossible to work out what he does or what sort of farm it is. He is a creation of a city living person who has no knowledge of the reality of farm life.
The book is meant to be a fable.
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