Supriya Ghosh

A Fringe of Leaves

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Language  English
ISBN  0-224-00902-8
Originally published  1976
Preceded by  The Eye of the Storm
Genre  Novel
3.6/5 Goodreads

Pages  405 pp
OCLC  1147089
Author  Patrick White
Followed by  The Twyborn Affair
Country  Australia
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Cover artist  Sidney Nolan, Mrs Fraser and Convict (oil and enamel on composition board, 1962–1964) in the collection of the Queensland Art Gallery.
Media type  Print (hardback and paperback)
Similar  Patrick White books, Novels, Classical Studies books

A Fringe of Leaves is the tenth published novel by the Australian novelist and 1973 Nobel Prize-winner, Patrick White.


A young Cornish woman, Mrs Ellen Roxburgh, travels to the Australian colonies in the early 1830s with her much older husband, Austin, to visit the "black sheep" of the family, Austin's brother Garnet Roxburgh. After witnessing the brutalities of Van Diemens Land, the Roxburghs embark on their return trip to England on The Bristol Maid. However, the ship runs aground on the coral reef off Fraser Island on the coast of what is now Queensland. Ellen is the only survivor from the leaky vessel in which the passengers and crew travel to the shore. She is rescued by the aboriginal people of the island, and she later meets Jack Chance, a convict who has escaped from Moreton Bay (now Brisbane), the brutal penal settlement to the south. It is Chance who escorts her through the dangerous coastal territory south to the outskirts of the settlement, but who refuses to accompany her further and returns to his exile. She returns to "civilisation" transformed and tormented by her experience with Garnet in Van Diemen's Land, with the aboriginal people, and with Chance.

The novel sets in sharp relief the distinctions between men and women, whites and blacks, the convicts and the free, and English colonists and Australian settlers. The contrast between Ellen's rural Cornish background and the English middle-class she has married into is also highlighted.


A Fringe of Leaves Wikipedia

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