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A Fringe of Leaves [Paperback]

Patrick White
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 July 1997
Returning to England in 1840, the Bristol Maid is shipwrecked on the Queensland Coast and Mrs Roxburgh is taken prisoner by a tribe of Aborigines. In the course of her escape, she is torn by loyalties - to her dead husband, to her rescuer, to her own and to her adoptive class.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 405 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (3 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099749211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099749219
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 812,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Darwinian Struggle for Survival. 5 Sep 2009
Patrick White deservedly won the nobel prize for literature. He was a man of extraordinary talent. Books like "Voss" made his reputation. But of his books, the one I remember most vividly is "A Fringe of Leaves". It is a mesmeric story that lingers long in the mind after reading it. I have now read it twice and will very likely read it again.

The story concerns the voyage in 1836 of the Bristol Maid, bound from England for Australia. On board is the beautiful Mrs Ellen Roxburgh a genteel and shy lady of her period. Then shockingly the Bristol Maid is shipwrecked on barren Australian shores where the survivors are captured by Aborigines and subjected to torture and worse. It is a descent back to mans primeval origins. Shorn of civilisation it is back to the Darwinian struggle where only the fit and strong survive. Mrs Roxburgh's humble past comes to her aid in the grim battle for survival, and she is a born survivor. In the will to live she begins to shed all the superfluous trappings of the civilisation she knew. The true Mrs Roxburgh disturbingly begins to surface.

The novel is wonderfully well conceived and says much about mans true nature. Scratch beneath the surface and we are not so far removed from our cave man past. In fact in many respects it might be argued they were more civilised. Remove all the baggage of so called civilisation and we descend back to our true nature. Manners and morals simply do not feed an empty belly and this is at the heart of the story. It is also one of the most tastefully erotic books that you are ever likely to read. But all in the best possible taste of course. Mrs Roxburgh in finding her primeval origins also becomes one of the most attractive literary heroines. I was unrequitedly in love with her much as I was with Kit Moresby in "The Sheltering Sky", which was equally as erotic. But most of all the book is utterly compelling and a damn good well written read. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lyers 13 Aug 2008
A Fringe of Leaves
The opening was very slow and read like many other books but once the travelling started the characters became individual. The situations stripped bare the pretensions of society and then then story really took off. As per the previous reviewer, it limped at times and the third part was a slight disappointment but the middle section is something that will stay in the memory forever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book 28 Aug 2011
By Ali
This is a brilliant book that deserves several readings. The language is beautiful, the characterization brilliant. The novel tells the story of a woman who has crossed the class divide and who is a survivor in every sense. The plot is based on the true tale of Eliza Fraser, who survived a shipwreck.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, Masterpiece 16 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I won't bother with a plot summary or make comparisons with other Patrick White novels because I am sure other reviewers will have covered this. This is another novel I was very pleased to find as a Kindle version because my old paperback copy is in tatters. (I'm afraid this is a theme).
This is not an easy book to read. On my first read through, I found it slow to start and was tempted to give up in the first, let's say quarter of the book. But I am so glad I persevered because it is a novel I have returned to at regular intervals since. It's hard to put into words exactly why it has such a profound effect on me or why it stays with me for so long but it does. I can't exactly say what it's really about or how it makes me feel because it's a melee of emotions ranging from utter desolation to resignation and a kind of hope. All I can tell you with confidence is that when I read the title or come across a reference to it, a vivid image pops into my head: a single figure shimmering in a distant heat haze in the parched, dusty Australian outback and I want to read it again. Very few novels are truly worth a 5 star rating. This most definitely is.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shipwrecks, class issues and plot! 9 Mar 2006
By A Customer
Though slow at times, this has been one of my most satisfying reads of late! White's style of writing was superb and engaging. Wish there were more of his books around!
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