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What if Elizabeth Macarthur—wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in the earliest days of Sydney—had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? And what if novelist Kate Grenville had miraculously found and published it? That’s the starting point for A Room Made of Leaves, a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.
Marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her heart, the search for power in a society that gave women none: this Elizabeth Macarthur manages her complicated life with spirit and passion, cunning and sly wit. Her memoir lets us hear—at last!—what one of those seemingly demure women from history might really have thought.
At the centre of A Room Made of Leaves is one of the most toxic issues of our own age: the seductive appeal of false stories. This book may be set in the past, but it’s just as much about the present, where secrets and lies have the dangerous power to shape reality.
Kate Grenville’s return to the territory of The Secret River is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand by one of our most original writers.
A READER’S INTRODUCTION TO A ROOM MADE OF LEAVES:
What if Elizabeth Macarthur’s letters and journals were a mask hiding her true experiences and emotions? What if the contemporary expectations of a gentlewoman prevented her from writing her truth to anyone but herself?
This is Kate Grenville’s starting point for this brilliant novel, a starting point encouraged by Elizabeth Macarthur’s recommendation not to believe too quickly...
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3CR: Published or Not
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Australian Financial Review
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Books, Books, Books podcast
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Feminist Writers Festival blog
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Meanjin: Lockdown ($)
Melbourne Writers Festival keynote speech
Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald: Creatives aren't just head-in-the-clouds dreamers
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