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.
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.