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These letters were the starting point for Kate Grenville’s bestselling novel A Room Made of Leaves. They inspired the portrait of her imagined Elizabeth Macarthur: shrewd, subtle, passionate. And they offer a glimpse into the complex inner life of one of our most powerful foremothers. Yet, until now, a general reader could only access a handful of them.
This book offers an edited selection, with commentary from Grenville, of the many letters Elizabeth Macarthur wrote ‘home’ from colonial Sydney over her long life—letters in which we can hear the voice of a remarkable woman. Circumstances confronted her with huge challenges, but also gave her opportunities unknown to most women of the time. It was a life of tumult, of griefs and joys—all faced with spirit, and recorded in this lively and engaging correspondence.
‘Excellent…So beautifully observed and written…An accomplished novel with all the experience that a writer like Kate Grenville brings to her work…Really a superb piece of work.’
‘Kate Grenville’s ‘A Room Made of Leaves’ - an almost flawless novel about our early colonial history told through the fictional eyes of Elizabeth MacArthur - it’s deep in research and beautifully realised.’
‘Kate Grenville is a literary alchemist, turning the leaden shadow of the historical Elizabeth Macarthur into a luminescent, golden woman for our times. Intelligent, compassionate, strategic and dead sexy, Grenville’s Macarthur is an unforgettable character who makes us question everything we thought we knew about our colonial past. A polished gem of a novel by a writer who is as brave as she is insightful. I simply loved it.’