Book Reviews

Book Review: Infinite Splendours by Sofie Laguna

Book Review Infinite Splendours Sofie Laguna

The year is 1953. Ten-year-old Lawrence Loman lives with his widowed mother, Louise, younger brother, Paul & their cow, Gert near the Grampians. Laurie is a caring, intelligent boy with a gift for art. One day, his maternal uncle Reggie, who has not been in contact, arrives to stay with the family. He seems to be the perfect surrogate father figure & also encourages Laurie’s artistic abilities. But after a devastating incident, Laurie is irrevocably changed. He develops a stammer, a manifestation of the unspoken trauma, & despite ageing through the course of the book, remains stuck. 40 years later, certain events change the trajectory of his life.

Infinite Splendours is Sofie Laguna’s fourth book & it is a sad tale of unhealed trauma & the shame within. The beauty of art & nature is a perfect juxtaposition to the horrors of the abuse & the lasting trauma endured by Laurie. Laguna explores with compassion & tenderness what it is like to not speak of the trauma, to hold on to shame, to be confused & potentially stuck at the age at which it occurred. Laurie is an endearing character from the beginning & as a reader, you find yourself holding your breath as you expect his innocence to be shattered. But then, as he grows older, you keep hoping, & hoping, & rooting for him, while also feeling brokenhearted that no one gets it.

There is beauty in Laguna’s prose & if you’ve read any of her previous works, you’d know she is brilliant at writing from the point of view of children. Infinite Splendours is another great example of her voice. The final pages pick up pace & sometimes, you don’t realise you are literally holding your breath wondering what’s going to happen. And then, you break. You break into pieces as your heart goes out to Laurie. The childhood scenes are brilliant & I especially loved the interaction between Laurie & Paul. There appear to be glimmers of hope during Laurie’s young adulthood & once again, when he is older. Most of these are brought on by nature & art. In the end, this is a book about unspoken trauma & the shame that festers, & also, about loneliness, the need for connection & wanting to be understood.

Some quotes:

I was alone. I had been alone since I was a boy of ten.

Sofie Laguna, Infinite Splendours (p. 423)

Must all things pass? Was there no other way? Perhaps that was why I painted – because there was no other way.

Sofie Laguna, Infinite Splendours (p. 280)

My next thought was one I had not had before — I do not need to suffer so. My thoughts led easily one to the next, without stammer. What had given me this new life, this space between thoughts? I do not need to suffer so!

Sofie Laguna, Infinite Splendours (p. 322)

Read this book if you enjoy books about the human experience. Read it for beautiful prose. Read it to notice nature & art & the colours around you. Read it to empathise & to connect. Keep tissues at hand & be ready to heal your broken heart after.

My rating:

Book Details:

PublisherAllen & Unwin
Publishing DateOctober 2020

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