A New Map of the Universe is an engaging and lyrical novel that spans two generations and both hemispheres as the main character, Grace, navigates her new map of the universe. It is a story about grief and passion, architecture and astronomy, but above all about finding yourself.
Astronomy and architecture seemed like an unusual combination, but it was this poignant passage which caught my eye when thumbing through it (stuck at the traffic lights on the way home from the library!)
By the time Grace gets home from the airport, Michael is already several hundred miles away from her. Yet the air in her flat still feels charged with his presence. And in her bedroom his smell makes her tight-throated and unsteady. She has the urge to shut the door, to make it last a little longer. She knows that within hours the smell will begin to fade. By tomorrow she will not be able to recall the scent that she breathed with her cheek on the ridge of his shoulder, her mouth against his neck. So that after a day, one of the ways she knows him will already be lost.
Her room seems full of spaces. She can see a hollow in the mattress where he slept, a curve where his head lay on the pillow. She thinks that she will sleep without moving, so as not to disturb this space that was filled with his body. She wants to keep her bed in the shape that he left it, as though he has only just got up. It will comfort her, this presence, when she wakes in the night without him.
She lies down now and rests her hand on the outline of his form. She imagines a heat emanating there and she cannot get up. It is eleven o’clock in the morning and she pulls the doona up over her head. She does not know how else to fill this empty day.
(A Map of the Universe by Annabel Smith, University of Western Australia Press, 2005, p 27)