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y separately published work icon A Room Made of Leaves single work   novel   historical fiction  
Issue Details: First known date: 2020... 2020 A Room Made of Leaves
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Do not believe too quickly…

'What if Elizabeth Macarthur—wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in early Sydney—had written a shockingly frank secret memoir?

'In her introduction Kate Grenville tells, tongue firmly in cheek, of discovering a long-hidden box containing that memoir. What follows is a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.

'Grenville’s Elizabeth Macarthur is a passionate woman managing her complicated life—marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her own heart, the search for power in a society that gave her none—with spirit, cunning and sly wit.

'Her memoir reveals the dark underbelly of the polite world of Jane Austen. It explodes the stereotype of the women of the past: devoted and docile, accepting of their narrow choices. That was their public face—here’s what one of them really thought.

'At the centre of this book is one of the most toxic issues of our times: the seductive appeal of false stories. Beneath the surface of Elizabeth Macarthur’s life and the violent colonial world she navigated are secrets and lies with the dangerous power to shape reality.

'A Room Made of Leaves is the internationally acclaimed author Kate Grenville’s first novel in almost a decade. It is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand that gives the past the piercing immediacy of the present.'(Publication summary)

Notes

  • Dedication: Dedicated to all those whose stories have been silenced.
  • Epigraph: Do not believe too quickly! - Elizabeth Macarthur

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2020 .
      image of person or book cover 6876609566034982134.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 352p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 2 July 2020

      ISBN: 9781922330024, 9781922458025
    • Edinburgh,
      c
      Scotland,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Canongate ,
      2020 .
      image of person or book cover 8831311812013416646.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 322p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 27 August 2020.
      ISBN: 9781838851231, 1838851232
    • Edinburgh,
      c
      Scotland,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Canongate ,
      2021 .
      image of person or book cover 1250581930264179600.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 1v.p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 4 June 2021.
      ISBN: 9781838851248, 1838851240
Alternative title: Una stanza fatta di foglie
Language: Italian
    • Vicenza, Veneto,
      c
      Italy,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Neri Pozza ,
      2021 .
      image of person or book cover 6223555531326577743.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 352p.p.
      ISBN: 9788854522657, 8854522651

Other Formats

Works about this Work

Nichola Garvey Review of Kate Grenville, A Room Made of Leaves and of Michelle Scott Tucker, Elizabeth Macarthur : A Life at the Edge of the World Nichola Garvey , 2022 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Journal of Biography and History , no. 6 2022; (p. 213-217)

— Review of A Room Made of Leaves Kate Grenville , 2020 single work novel ; Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World Michelle Scott Tucker , 2018 single work biography
'Every generation claims the right to reinterpret the past from the present standpoint, which is why we see continual upgrades or modern iterations of an historical figure. Styles change, as do emphases, even when source materials do not. Why though, do some historical figures continue to ignite the curiosity of biographers? Certainly, an exceptional life story helps but sometimes it comes down to the richness of the archive. In Elizabeth Macarthur’s case, she possesses both.'

 (Introduction)

I Hijacked Elizabeth Macarthur’s Story for A Room Made of Leaves. Now, through Her Letters, She Speaks for Herself Kate Grenville , 2022 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 12 April 2022;
My Ten Best Novels of 2020 Jennifer Bryce , 2021 single work criticism
— Appears in: SF Commentary : The Independent Magazine About Science Fiction , May no. 106 2021; (p. 28-33)
The Pursuit of Self and Story Venus Fultz , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: Antipodes , vol. 34 no. 2 2020; (p. 394-395)

— Review of A Room Made of Leaves Kate Grenville , 2020 single work novel
'It takes Mrs. Elizabeth MacArthur over two hundred pages to find the room of leaves. This space, carved for herself and her lover, is a physical space of safety and authenticity, but throughout the novel, Elizabeth pursues her authentic self through moments of feeling. We first see Elizabeth comfortable with herself as a child helping her grandfather with sheep and in the winks of queerness between her and her friend Bridie—which, as a queer writer and reader, I appreciate. I enjoyed Elizabeth's narrative pursuing a sense of self and navigating what that means to her in each situation she is forced into. When she meets MacArthur, she chases his advances not because he is worthy of her or for any hopes of romance but because in the moment of ecstasy, she experiences a euphoria of self and control that intoxicates her. Unfortunately, this moment ties her to MacArthur as wife. The novel does not shy away from the dismal historical reality of life as an orphan, losing her grandfather's respect, and being married to a callous man.' 

(Introduction)

Contemporary Historical Fiction and Kate Grenville's A Room Made of Leaves Charlotte Guest , 2020 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , vol. 34 no. 2 2020; (p. 200-216)

'This essay situates the recent return to referentiality and authenticity in contemporary historical fiction in the context of the current climate of global literary culture, which is concerned with ideas of identity, positionality, proximity, and authenticity. This return is guided by a refreshed ethics of literary production, a renewed sense of moral obligation to represent the past truthfully and earnestly, while maintaining postmodernism's skepticism toward the production and construction of historical narratives. Some contemporary historical novels have (re)assumed the responsibility of demonstrating to the general reading public how histories are written and, by extension, propose an ethical and critical engagement with the past that aligns with the shift in political and cultural sensibilities we have witnessed over the past decade. The case study in this essay is A Room Made of Leaves (2020) by Kate Grenville, a critically acclaimed Australian historical novelist.' (Publication abstract)

First Blush Stephen Romei , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 27 June 2020; (p. 14)

— Review of A Room Made of Leaves Kate Grenville , 2020 single work novel
Review: Kate Grenville’s A Room Made of Leaves Fills the Silence of the Archives Kerrie Davies , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Conversation , 13 July 2020;

— Review of A Room Made of Leaves Kate Grenville , 2020 single work novel

Some time ago, during the renovation of a historic house in Sydney, a tin box, sealed with wax and wrapped in oiled canvas, was found wedged under a beam in the roof cavity. The house was Elizabeth Farm…

'So begins A Room Made of Leaves’ editor’s note, detailing the discovery of the “long lost secret memoirs” of Elizabeth Macarthur, wife of colonial wool baron John Macarthur. The “editor and transcriber” is Kate Grenville, author of the acclaimed colonial novel based on her family history, The Secret River.' (Introduction)

A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville Review – the Untold Story of an Unruly Woman Kirsten Tranter , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 31 July 2020;

— Review of A Room Made of Leaves Kate Grenville , 2020 single work novel

'What would Elizabeth Macarthur, wife of notorious Australian colonist John Macarthur, say if she could set the record straight?'

Noted : A Room Made of Leaves Helen Elliott , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Monthly , August no. 169 2020; (p. 57)

— Review of A Room Made of Leaves Kate Grenville , 2020 single work novel
Leaves Worth Turning Geordie Williamson , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 11 July 2020; (p. 17)

— Review of A Room Made of Leaves Kate Grenville , 2020 single work novel

'It is almost wicked, the pleasure Kate Grenville takes in piercing the bubble of impeccability that surrounds the historical figure of Elizabeth Macarthur.'

What If the Wife of a Colonial Monster Had Left behind Brutally Frank Secret Memoirs? Kate Grenville , 2020 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 3 July 2020;

'In writing Elizabeth Macarthur’s imagined tell-all, I wanted to take the image of the devout, demure, compliant and uncomplaining woman and blast it open.'

y separately published work icon At Home with Kate Grenville Astrid Edwards (interviewer), Melbourne : Bad Producer Productions , 2020 19698993 2020 single work podcast interview

'Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s most celebrated writers. Her international bestseller The Secret River was awarded local and overseas prizes, has been adapted for the stage and as an acclaimed television miniseries, and is now a much-loved classic. Grenville’s other novels include Sarah ThornhillThe LieutenantDark Places and the Orange Prize winner The Idea of Perfection.

'In 2020 she returns to the first years of European settlement in Australia with A Room Made of Leaves, an alternative memoir of Elizabeth Macarthur.

'Kate has also written non-fiction, including One Life: My Mother’s Story and The Case Against Fragrance, as well as three books about the writing process.

'In 2017 Grenville was awarded the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature.' (Introduction)

Quarantine Q&A : Kate Grenville 2020 2020 single work interview
— Appears in: Feminist Writers Festival 2016-;
Kate Grenville, Sofie Laguna, Julia Baird and Others : The 20 Best Australian Books of 2020 2020 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 17 December 2020;
My Ten Best Novels of 2020 Jennifer Bryce , 2021 single work criticism
— Appears in: SF Commentary : The Independent Magazine About Science Fiction , May no. 106 2021; (p. 28-33)
Last amended 25 Jan 2022 11:21:44
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