Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 6, 2020

Kate Grenville’s new book, thoughts from Michelle Scott Tucker

The following is reblogged from the website of Michelle Scott Tucker, author of Elizabeth Macarthur, a life at the edge of the world:

So some of you might know that Kate Grenville has a new book coming out this year. A novel. About Elizabeth Macarthur…

Kate Grenville is, like me, one of Text Publishing’s stable of authors and I’ve known for quite a while that this book was coming, and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it.

The novel will be called A Room Made of Leaves and according to Books+Publishing,”This extraordinary novel takes as its starting point the story of Elizabeth Macarthur in the infant colony of Sydney, but breaks it open into a playful dance of possibilities.”

Magnanimous me thinks ‘I don’t own Elizabeth’s story – no-one does – so surely anyone who wants to write about her should go right ahead.’

Defensive me thinks ‘What can possibly be said that I haven’t already said?’

Churlish me thinks ‘Now that my little book has had its 15 minutes of fame it will be pushed even further to the back of the shelf.’

Optimistic me thinks ‘Maybe I’ll sell a few extra copies to people who read the novel and want to know more.’

And actual me just thinks there’s nothing I can do about it, so I may as well just watch with interest and see what happens.

To read the rest of Michelle’s thoughts, click here.

To read my review of Michelle’s book, see here.


  1. I have put your book at the top of my TBR. I do enjoy these biographies for the most part as it is so interesting to discover more of those important women in the making of this country. Am sure yours will be a great success.


    • I think you’ll love it, Fay – it certainly revised my naive childhood knowledge of John as ‘the father’ of the wool industry here!


  2. Lisa, you really are incredibly kind. And your thoughts, here as elsewhere, are insightful and interesting. Thank you SO much for reblogging this, I really appreciate it.


  3. Interesting… I’m of the view that the more different takes on a (historical) person we can get the better it is because there’s no single “truth” and different perspectives and voices provide a more rounded portrait. Also, not everyone reads biographies (I prefer memoir myself) and not everyone reads fiction, so I think it’s important to cover all bases. I can understand Michelle feeling protective of her subject but I think it will likely boost her book sales because anyone intrigued enough about McArthur having read Grenville’s novel will want to know more and perhaps be eager to read a biography. Just my two bits worth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think Michelle did make it clear that she had mixed feelings but I wouldn’t say her stance was protective. I remember when David Lodge wrote a book about Henry James at the same time as Colm Toibin, and he was interviewed about it, he was publicly philosophical but never really admitted how he was feeling. Text has gone out of its way to disarm her, I think, but she has been honest and fair, and has given KG’s book advance publicity into the bargain.
      As I hope I made clear in my comment on Michelle’s blog, I think writers can write whatever they like. But what they choose to write about influences whether I want to read it or not (and in respect of that Australian author milking the Holocaust for her own personal gain, that choice can also influence my personal opinion of the author, though that’s a different issue).
      No, I’m disappointed that a writer who is at the top of her game can’t think of anything better to write about than something that’s already been done so well by somebody else. It’s a different issue for people who haven’t read Michelle’s book, of course.

      Liked by 1 person

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