Saturday, February 22, 2020

Heart of the Grass Tree by Molly Murn

This book is the first I have read by the Australian author Molly Murn. It is an intergenerational historical fiction/drama set on South Australia's Kangaroo Island. Reading about the beautiful unique landscape of Kangaroo Island that is so well captured by Molly Murn was bitter sweet for me, as I was reading this book as devastating bushfires tore through and destroyed much of the spectacular Flinders Chase National Park on the island.

This book tells the stories of different female characters spanning the 1800s to the current day, with little side stories to give perspective from a couple of the male characters too. I found a couple of the stories really interesting and engrossing (those told by Maringani & William and Nell & Sol), but was not really captured by the stories of the more recent characters like Pearl and Diana and their immediate families. I think if the novel had focused more on Maringani and Nell's stories I would have scored this book much higher as I really enjoyed those parts of the book more. I also found it a bit confusing how the book was set out, some chapters clearly specified in the chapter heading which character was telling that part of the story, while others did not and instead had a location as the chapter heading. The sections told by the male characters did not seem to have chapter headings with their names in them either. I am not sure if there was a reason/pattern behind the choice of chapter heading styles and maybe I missed the subtlety of it.

I have heard that Molly Murn will be giving a talk at the Friends of the Barr Smith Library next month, so I am going to go to this and hopefully learn more of the history behind the novel and perhaps gain a better appreciation of the novel and it's structure too.

Started reading: 15th January 2020
Finished reading: 19th February 2020
My score: 6.5/10
Stats: Female author, Australian Author, New Author to me, Historical fiction and modern drama.

Photo taken by me in April 2019, on day 2 of hiking the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail


  1. A title I've not come across before - what beautiful cover art. I do hope you enjoy this author talk. It can be the case that the stories behind novels are just as interesting, if not more so.

  2. Thanks Jo. I first heard about this book in the Chat10Looks3 podcast by Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb - if you don't already listen to it you may like it as they often discuss books.
    I also loved the cover art! Another book with similarly beautiful native flowers on the cover is "The lost flowers of Alice Hart" which is also on my 'to read' pile for the Aussie Author Challenge this year.