They tried Mansfield but it was freezing and snowed and people like them don’t fit in because they don’t look prosperous. One time near Yellingbo they found a church no one prayed in and they lived there and for three weeks had stained glass for windows…They got chased out and went to Shepparton but Shane had a run-in and police said move.
Shane, Moira and Midge, along with young Zara and Rory, are ‘trants’—itinerants roaming the plains north-west of Melbourne in search of disused houses to sleep in, or to strip of heritage fittings when funds are low. When they find their Tree Palace outside Barleyville, things are looking up. At last, a place in which to settle down.
But Zara, fifteen, is pregnant and doesn’t want a child. She’d rather a normal life with town boys, not trant life with a baby. Moira decides to step in: she’ll look after her grandchild. Then Shane finds himself in trouble with the local cops…
Warmly told and witty, Craig Sherborne’s second novel is a revelation—an affecting story of family and rural life.
‘Much of the novel’s action and characterisation unfolds through its authentic dialogue, and Sherborne’s skills as a poet and playwright shine through. Readers will also enjoy his vivid depictions of nature—another strong feature of the novel is its rural setting. Told with warmth and humour, this contemporary, distinctly Australian story explores teen pregnancy; motherhood and parenthood; love and family; the roles and feelings of men and boys; and the power plays inherent in all human relationships. Tree Palace serves up a full slice of life—the bitter with the sweet.’ 4 stars
‘With the crystallisation and compression of poetry, Sherborne explores ideas of property, freedom and loyalty, and produces a novel as beautiful in its conjunctions as the chandelier swinging over its landscapes.’
‘[Tree Palace is] moving, terrifying and wonderfully well observed and, as with all the strange books Sherborne writes, a triumph…The main character [is] one of the great portraits of up-against-it Australian womanhood in our literature, a figure to put with Lawson’s Drover’s Wife and Barbara Baynton’s women.’
‘Sherborne’s descriptions of landscape are poetic and powerful, reinforcing a sense of identity that is deeply connected to a sense of place.’
‘Sherborne had me at chapter one. Yes this comes down to the writing, which is, quite simply, sublime, but it goes further than that. There’s such feeling; such heart that it’s impossible not to fall for Moira, Shane & co. Tree Palace is a reminder that even inside the smallest of stories there’s room enough for the stirring of universal themes…This is timeless, universal storytelling that is nonetheless quintessentially Australian.’
‘[Tree Palace has] insight, empathy and supple, observant prose.’
‘A delightful take on what it means to be family.’
‘Sherborne has woven an ultimately heart-warming tale. He tells it in simple language with great touches of humour and humanity, and has a fine way of describing his settings too. He draws his sultry rural locality well—its many sudden climate changes are almost characters themselves. It’s not hard to see why he’s capable of winning awards for his work. This is good story-telling and well worth reading.’
‘Sherborne writes movingly and with poetic grace. Characters come across as an extension of the landscape: a landscape that will outlive the characters as they move through fleetingly. It is a relief to read this novel from a distance. While it is fascinating in a voyeuristic, readerly way to follow the plot twists that is about as close as we are willing to go. This is a great novel and Sherborne is a novelist to look out for.’
‘Warmly told and witty, Craig Sherborne’s second novel is a revelation — an affecting story of family and rural life.’
‘Tree Palace intelligently muses on the nature of human connections, to place and to one another.’