The latest book from Miles Franklin Award-winning Australian author Sofie Laguna is… well, it’s something.
It’s complex and intensely felt, it’s rich in detail but sparse in dialogue and action, and it’s evocative in a way that will make you slightly (or maybe more than slightly) uncomfortable.
When the amazing team at Allen And Unwin sent me a copy of Infinite Splendours to review, I got far more than I bargained for.
The story starts in 1953, and follows the life of a boy with a prodigious talent for painting. At ten years old, it seems that Lawrence’s affinity for art and landscape will take him far, and he’s spurred on by the arrival of his long-lost well-travelled uncle.
His uncle’s interest in him takes a sinister turn (yes, big-time trigger warning for child abuse and assault, here), and suddenly Lawrence’s life is up-ended.
I wish I could say Infinite Splendours is a story of triumph over trauma and breaking the cycle of abuse, but it takes a really concerning turn towards the end of the second act and the characters were never quite redeemed (in my eyes, anyway).
Even now, I’m really not sure how I feel about Infinite Splendours – it will be churning inside my heart and stomach for a while yet before I make up my mind.