Infinite Splendours (Sofie Laguna, A&U)
Miles Franklin–winner Sofie Laguna’s fourth novel tells the story of Lawrence, a boy from a small western Victorian town near the Southern Grampians mountain range. Lawrence has a special, spiritual relationship with one particular mountain, Mount Wallis. This relationship feeds his burgeoning artistic talent, becoming more complex and challenging after the traumatic incident that gives Lawrence a severe stammer, rendering him all but incapable of speaking. As a result he fails school and reaches adulthood being cared for by his aging mother. After she dies, Lawrence retreats even further into his painting and his inner dialogue with Mount Wallis. Uninterested in learning what lies behind Lawrence’s eccentricities, society continues to demand things from him that he is incapable of understanding, let alone dealing with. Laguna has created a world and main character with genuine verisimilitude, setting them at odds with each other in a way that allows the reader to anticipate the tragedies to come while convincingly preventing her protagonist from realising the dangers he faces. Even in the face of these tragedies, though, Laguna’s poetic prose creates a tangible sense of beauty, compassion and hope. This is a moving book about a victim’s struggle to live with and understand their own trauma. Fans of Laguna’s earlier novels will enjoy her further exploration of the themes of her previous work, while newcomers will be likewise be drawn into this compelling, sadly universal, story.
Adam Ford is an editor and a published poet. He speaks to Sofie Laguna about Infinite Splendours here.