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Inga Simpson
Understory by Inga Simpson at Abbey's Bookshop,


Inga Simpson


Hachette Australia



272 pages

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ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Many people dream about making a tree change. When Simpson and her partner fell in love with ten steep acres of bush in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, they succumbed to its allure without quite knowing just what they were taking on. Within a short time they followed their hearts and purchased the adjoining block to set up their own writers’ retreat business, threw in their jobs and slaved – only for the GFC (and other factors) to drop them so deep into debt that their dream, and their lives, started to unravel.

This book interleaves natural science and personal story, description and reflection. Many chapters start with a particular tree found on the block - its growth and habit, the fauna it supports and its human usage - before flowing into Simpson’s life and labours. She learns to look, to see, and finally to recognise not only the trees on her property, but also her own possibilities and strengths. While each of her novels (Mr Wigg; Nest; Where the Trees Were) has shown a strong connection to land and nature, this book allows her to expand her concerns and observations, and to preserve and celebrate her trees in words - a fine addition to the genre of Australian nature writing. Lindy Jones


"The understorey is where I live, alongside these plants and creatures. I tend the forest, stand at the foot of trees and look up, gather what has fallen."

Each chapter of this absorbing memoir explores a particular species of tree, layering description, anecdote, and natural history to tell the story of a scrap of forest in the Sunshine Coast hinterland - how the author came to be there and the ways it has shaped her life.

In many ways, it's the story of a tree-change, of escaping suburban Brisbane for a cottage on ten acres in search of a quiet life. Of establishing a writers' retreat shortly before the Global Financial Crisis hit, and losing just about everything when it did.

It is also the story of what the author found there: the literature of nature and her own path as a writer. Understory is about connection to place as a white settler descendant, and the search for a language appropriate to describe that experience.

By:   Inga Simpson
Imprint:   Hachette Australia
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   380g
ISBN:   9780733635960
ISBN 10:   0733635962
Pages:   272
Publication Date:   May 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Author Website:

Inga Simpson began her career as a professional writer for government before gaining a PhD in creative writing. In 2011, she took part in the Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program and, as a result, Hachette Australia published her first novel, MR WIGG, in 2013. NEST, Inga's second novel, was published in 2014, before being longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and the Stella Prize, and shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal. Inga's third novel, the acclaimed Where the Trees Were, was published in 2016. Inga won the final Eric Rolls Prize for her nature writing and recently completed a second PhD, exploring the history of Australian nature writers. Inga's memoir about her love of Australian nature and life with trees, UNDERSTORY, will be published in June 2017.

It is a fine addition to the genre of Australian nature writing. - Books + Publishing

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