New Manager Steve Scholey took over in March 2020 and promptly had to close the shop due to Lockdown restrictions. The team have used the time well working on refurbishing and rearranging the shop at the same time as supplying books via click and collect. Steve has regularly been out on his bike to deliver to our customers.
outside the family home in Sydney. One way or another she has been a bookseller ever since.
Told mostly as the story of one summer’s day in 1596, the day on which Hamnet’s twin Judith falls ill with the plague, the story slips back and forth into the lives of Agnes and Will; how they came to be together, how their marriage, brought about by Agnes’s pregnancy, was an escape for both of them. Central to the novel though is the loss of their child, the deep unfathomable grief that this brings and the different ways Agnes and Will live with their grief.
Based on the real life story of John MacArthur who every Australian schoolchild learns was the ‘father of wool’, pioneer in the great staple product of Merino wool, A Room Made of Leaves puts Elizabeth, and her life at Elizabeth Farm* at the centre of the story where previously it was really only John who was given credit. I have read two of Grenville’s previous explorations of early Australian life The Secret River and The Lieutenant which were both very male-character-centred. There were so few women in the very early days of the Australian colony but they too have a story to tell. One thing I felt was missing was any real sense of how very difficult life must have been in the late eighteenth century New South Wales especially for a woman brought up in comfort. The heat, the dust, the fear for your children, the overwhelming difficulties of this new life didn’t really come across.
None of these books is a history book. Facts, as Kate Grenville admits, have been ‘slithery’ in the hands of the authors who have used what is known to tell a story set in a moment in time. The fact that all the stories do have some basis in the truth, are based on real people in real places is a perfect start for anyone interested to find out more about their life and times.
*Elizabeth Farmhouse was the very first ‘Historic House’ I visited when my 3rd form history class went on a school excursion. I remember very little about the house other than the fact that we had to remove our shoes when we walked inside as the floorboards were so old.