Heart of the Grass Tree

Author(s): Molly Murn

FICTION | Indie Book Awards

Pearl remembers Nell's feet stretched towards the campfires on the beach, her fourth toe curled in and nestled against the middle toe like a small prawn. They all have a curled fourth toe - Diana, Lucy, Pearl. When Pearl's grandmother Nell dies unexpectedly, Pearl and her family - mother Diana, sister Lucy - return to Kangaroo Island to mourn and farewell her. Each of them knew Nell intimately but differently, and each woman must reckon with Nell's passing in her own way. But Nell had secrets, too, and as Pearl, Diana and Lucy interrogate their feelings about the island, Pearl starts to pull together the scraps Nell left behind - her stories, poems, paintings - and unearths a connection to the island's early history, of the early European sealers and their first contact with the Ngarrindjeri people. As the three women are in grief pulled apart from each other, Pearl's deepening connection to their history, the island's history, grounds her, and will ultimately bring the women back to each other. Heart of the Grass Tree is an exquisite, searing and hope-filled debut about mothers and daughters and family stories, about country and its living history.



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Heart of the Grass Tree is a remarkably assured debut that announces Molly as a significant new Australian literary talent. The novel, which evokes Kangaroo Island with vivid intensity, draws on the early history of the island to show how the past informs everything that follows.

These stories of mothers and daughters across the years, their loves and losses, are artfully woven to form a deeply resonant and moving narrative. Throughout, the writing is beautiful, her poetic, lyrical style make this a book to read and read again. I loved it. Gavin


  Molly is a South Australian writer. She holds a Bachelor of Dance, a Masters in Creative Arts, and is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Flinders University. Molly also works as manager of Matilda Bookshop in the Adelaide Hills. Her poetry has won several awards, including a commendation in the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets. Molly was the recipient of a Varuna Publisher Fellowship for the unpublished manuscript of Heart of the Grass Tree. She has worked as a lecturer in English and Creative Writing, as a sessional academic teacher, research assistant, and as an editor.  




General Fields

  • : 9780143792499
  • : Random House Australia
  • : Vintage
  • : 0.456
  • : May 2018
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Molly Murn
  • : Paperback
  • : 1902
  • : 304