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A New Map of the Universe, by Annabel Smith.

May 10, 2012
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/A New Map of the Universe, by Annabel Smith. University of Western Australia Press (2005), Paperback, 247 pages.

A perceptive, lyrical novel about silences and different kinds of love by a new Australian author.

At first Annabel Smith seems to have written a set of short stories, each of which can stand alone. Finally the linkage between the stories is revealed and other patterns that repeat in them becoming apparent. These are stories about loss and grief and how individuals may close in on themselves to avoid the pain of their memories. And these are stories about how such attempts to shield oneself from pain can hurt others. Children growing up in face of such silence will be scared and need to be loved in order to heal. Only by facing the pain rather than hiding in the silence can new love be built. Only then can a person acquire “a new map of the universe” that will allow moving on.

Smith is a fine writer. Her descriptions of her characters and their silences are sure and her descriptions of the landscape are moving. As a non-Australian, I was particularly moved by her depiction of the car trip from Perth to Melbourne; the cold, lonely southern coast which I had never imaged and how long it takes to drive the distance.

After finishing this novel, I took several days letting its pieces fall into place. Although it is written in traditional prose, I needed time to sort out the connections. One of the pleasures of blogging is that I find myself mulling over what I read and getting the extra pleasure that a book like this can offer.

Thanks to Lisa at for convincing me to read this book.

I recommend A New Map of the Universe to anyone who enjoys a meaningful, hopeful, and lyrical novel.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. annabelsmith permalink
    January 2, 2013 1:40 am

    Hi Marilyn, I just stumbled across this lovely review – thank you so much. I’m very pleased to hear the book touched you. Best wishes, Annabel

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