New Release Book Review: Arcadia by Di Morrissey


About the Book:

A breathtaking Tasmanian tale of ancient forests; of art and science; of love and, above all, of friendship.

In the 1930s, in an isolated and beautiful corner of southern Tasmania, a new young wife arrives at her husband’s secluded property – Arcadia. Stella, an artist, falls in love with Arcadia’s wild, ancient forest. And when an unknown predator strikes, she is saved by an unusual protector…

Two generations later, Stella’s granddaughter, Sally, and her best friend, Jessica, stumble over Stella’s secret life in the forest and find themselves threatened in turn.

What starts as a girls’ adventurous road trip becomes a hunt for the story of the past, to solve the present, and save their future…

A modern mystery born in a timeless Tasmanian forest, from Australia’s favourite storyteller.

My Thoughts:

There’s no doubting Di Morrissey’s claim to the title ‘Australia’s favourite storyteller’. She certainly knows how to deliver a good story. With its blend of family mystery, suspense, history and environmental awareness, Arcadia is a compelling novel that highlights the Tasmanian wilderness at its very best.

“She’d always been drawn to this quiet green world of ancient giants. This was more than schoolroom rhetoric of the great rainforests being the ‘lungs of the planet’; there was a reason these trees had stood as sentries for centuries. And yet how many millions of them had died in such a short amount of time, due to the actions of humans and climate? We’ve learned so little, she thought.”

While there is an historical storyline embedded throughout Arcadia, it is predominantly a contemporary story. There was a lot of intrigue set up within the historical narrative that from a history point of view, I’d have loved to have seen explored further. Smuggling, a secret affair, poaching, the polio epidemic; this was all touched on, but only in a passing sense. More time was given to the contemporary story, which at times, moved along a little too slowly and with less intrigue than the historical angle. This could be more me and my tastes though as everyone knows I prefer historical fiction over contemporary.

The setting was sublime and well realised on the page. I loved the seclusion of Arcadia and the way it was relatively untouched, not just in the environmental sense, but in the way generations of the one family were still living there, using some of the same furniture and drinking from the same teacups, wearing the same sturdy gumboots and toiling in the same garden beds. It’s in this world building that Di’s talents really show as she knows exactly how to bring a place to life for her readers. And I know a lot about mushrooms now, more than I ever imagined I would! A highlight for me was the bond between Stella and ‘her’ owls. That was a truly special aspect of this story.

Arcadia is a good read with wide appeal. As a hardback, it would make an ideal Christmas gift.


Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of Arcadia for review.

About the Author:

Di Morrissey is one of the most successful and prolific authors Australia has ever produced. She trained as a journalist, working in newspapers, magazines, television, film, theatre and advertising around the world. Her fascination with different countries, their landscape, their cultural, political and environmental issues, has been the catalyst for her novels which are all inspired by a particular landscape. Di lives with her partner, Boris Janjic, in the Manning Valley, NSW. In 2017, in recognition of her achievements, Di was inducted into the Australian Book Industry Awards Hall of Fame with the Lloyd O’Neil Award.

Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
Released on 16th October 2018

5 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: Arcadia by Di Morrissey

  1. Pingback: My Reading Life: #aww2018 Challenge Checkpoint 5 | Theresa Smith Writes

  2. Another author I admire. Her books are terrific. I love how each book is set in a different location in Australia, reminds me of John Williamson and his songs how each one captures a country in song. I just love discovering new places whether it be in John’s songs or Di’s stories. I have quite a few of Di Morrissey’s books I need to get to. Hopefully it will all happen in the new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with the observation that a little too much time on the human relationships as I was so intrigued by nature. Maybe I’m in the older cynical women bracket! Still really enjoyed it and would recommend

    Liked by 1 person

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