A New Map of the Universe by Annabel Smith: Book Review

Spurred on by Lisa Hill’s review at ANZ Litlovers, I finally got myself a copy of Annabel Smith’s ‘A New Map of the Universe’ and I am thrilled with it.

How’s this for beautiful writing?

She dreams him every night the same, his eyes with the bright look of morning.  Or she dreams him every night differently.  It looks like him but his voice is wrong.  Sometimes he is there but he looks like someone else and she does not recognise him.  Or he does not know her, turns away when she speaks to him.  She wakes up aching.
(42-43)

The lives of Peter, Madeleine and Grace are traced with such depth and beauty that we know them intimately and care about them greatly and I confess to the odd tear.

The narrative switch between present and past tense is seamless, the hard work by the author providing a gentle and easy reading experience.  As a writer, I know this would not have been easy to accomplish. The novel (published in 2005 by UWA Press) was written with the support of an Australian Postgraduate Award and an Edith Cowan Priority Research Scholarship and it is thrilling to see such an innovative writer get the backing she so richly deserves.

I was forewarned about a beautiful love scene in the opening pages and it lived up to my expectations, taking my breath away.  A new map of the universe indeed!  I am not going to share it though; you really need to read if for yourself but I will tantalise you with its aftermath:

Painted by his hand and his tongue, imprinted with his myths, her skin feels different.  She examines it, like a new tattoo. (9)

As Molly Meldrum would say… ‘do yourself a favour’ and buy the book.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “A New Map of the Universe by Annabel Smith: Book Review

  1. I knew you’d love it! And yes, an inspiration for any writer…

  2. annabelsmith

    Thanks so much for your lovely review Karenlee, I’m glad you liked it.

    • Thanks for dropping by Annabel. When Lisa Hill recommends something to me, I always take notice and I am never more glad than I was with this one. You must be so very proud. What are you working on at the moment?

      • annabelsmith

        I have a new book coming out in November called ‘Whisky Charlie Foxtrot’. It’s a very different book to ‘A New Map’ in style and tone but on an emotional level it is similar in some ways.

  3. I’m looking forward to seeing that one!

    • Me too. It is music to my ears when a writer says it is different to their last book. So many authors think that if something is well received then they had best continue in the same vein. But I like to be surprised.

      • It’s nice to be eavesdroppng on a conversation between two authors here:)
        I think that moving on is brave, because capturing a loyal market is what helps an author to finance the career, but if the talent is there then it is a move that brings rewards. To give just two examples, Lloyd Jones, one of New Zealand’s finest writers ,does something different in style and structure with each book he writes. Charlotte Wood does too, she wants to ‘grow’ as a writer. The best of both worlds is probably to be able to churn out endless crime novels in the same format for the popular market, (one per year, published under a nom de plume) and use the money from that to write exactly what you like!

      • annabelsmith

        It’s interesting because I wouldn’t say I consciously set out to write a different kind of book – a story just came to me, and the style and form flowed from the story and the characters – what they needed to say and how they needed to say it. But it was refreshing to write in a new way – I don’t think I would enjoy following some sort of writing formula or feeling restricted to recreate book after book in the same voice or style.

    • annabelsmith

      Thanks Lisa!

  4. annabelsmith

    I think Margaret Atwood is also an example of a writer who does something different each time – she moves from historical fiction to sci-fi without a hitch and i really admire that.

  5. I agree with you Annabel. I sometimes wish I was one of those writers who could churn out money-spinners to a set formula but then I remind myself that I would not enjoy that. Half the fun I find in writing is bringing new characters to life and then seeing where they will take you.

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