A New Map of the Universe

by Annabel Smith | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1920694552 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wandering of Breda, Noord-Brabant Netherlands on 1/20/2013
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This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
10 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wandering from Breda, Noord-Brabant Netherlands on Sunday, January 20, 2013
From the back:

Grace dreams of designing a house for her lover, Michael, a place where they can begin their life together. But before she can step into her future with Michael, Grace must journey into the past to confront its crippling legacy of silence and secrets.

This lyrical, engaging novel spans two generations and both hemispheres as Grace navigates her new map of the universe. It is a story about grief and passion, architecture and astronomy, but above all it is a story about finding yourself.

Journal Entry 2 by wandering at Den Haag, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Sunday, January 20, 2013
In 2008, I bought this book while I was traveling in Australia. I wanted to take home a book from an Australian author. In a book shop in Melbourne, I found this debut book of Annabel Smith, who wrote it during her PhD in English, creative writing. The book has been published by University of Western Australia Press, in a series that will have more debut books of their students.

I really liked this book. The writing flows naturally and you get great insight in the characters as the story unfolds. The first chapter is in the present, then it goes back into the past to reveal how Grace, the main character, became who she is today, and the last chapter returns to the present. The plot is clever, but not too complicated to follow. Details are dropped left and right that don't seem of much importance, but connect with the storyline in times past later on in the book.

The balance between the male and female characters is just right: both are described as human, which is not always the case in books. I have most sympathy for Peter, perhapse because he is so fascinated by architecture and I am a building engineer myself so I get all the details about that.

I'm going to see if there are people interested in reading this book as a ray, as it deserves to be read by more people than just me.

Journal Entry 3 by wandering at Den Haag, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Monday, January 21, 2013
This will be a book ray. This means that the last person on the list may do with the book as they please. There are no rules, except try to keep it moving in a reasonable time frame when there are people behind you on the list. Happy reading!


Journal Entry 4 by wandering at on Monday, January 21, 2013

Released 7 yrs ago (1/22/2013 UTC) at


Onderweg naar Elandria.

Journal Entry 5 by Elandria at on Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The book arrived, thanks wandering. I will aim to send it on its way again within four weeks time. Looking forward to reading it!

Journal Entry 6 by Elandria at on Sunday, February 03, 2013
At first I was sure it would be better to just give up and put down the book, the first part about Grace I found tedious and incredible annoying to read. But I am glad I kept reading, because I enjoyed the parts about Peter and Madeleine. All in all, not a bad book, but also not convincing enough to read it again some day.

Journal Entry 7 by Elandria at on Thursday, February 07, 2013

Released 7 yrs ago (2/7/2013 UTC) at


Tijdens een avondwandeling bij de volgende ringdeelnemer in de brievenbus gestopt. Veel plezier met lezen!

Journal Entry 8 by wingvioloncellixwing at on Friday, February 08, 2013
Heel veel dank, Elandria, voor de bezorging van dit boek, en wandering voor het ringen. Leuk dat er een kaart bij zat met een leeswens van jullie beiden. Ik ben benieuwd naar het boek.

Journal Entry 9 by wingvioloncellixwing at on Tuesday, March 19, 2013
This weekend I finished 'A new map of the universe'. Just like Elandria, I found the first part hard going and had little patience with the protagonist, Grace, and her passivity.

Then I was completely gripped by the stories of Peter and Madeleine, which also put the first part in perspective. In these parts the author very deftly manages to "show, not tell", and to make the reader think about the parallels: the silences about love, the difference between contact in letters and in reality...After this, I could read the last part, again about Grace, without any impatience.

I have never been in Australia, and for me the continent appeared as a mysterious protagonist in itself, which I am glad to know a bit better after reading the book.

Here is a quote from the last part, in which Grace drives along the interminable straight roads on a journey of a few thousand miles, from Perth to Melbourne:

Out of habit she talks to Michael too, meandering conversations that she rehearses, line by line until she is word perfect. In the past it has comforted her, recalling the quiet way he listened when she spoke, imagining his responses to her thoughts and feelings. Today when she catches herself she feels guilty, treacherous, as though she has broken a promise. For this is what she is driving away from, what she hoped to leave behind in Perth. She is tired of a life only half lived, of storing her best away for an imagined future that might never unfold.

Yet still the words she wants to say to Michael rise up from inside her: soft and round, they hide beneath her tongue, stick to the roof of her mouth; sharp and small, they catch between her teeth. She feels them, like pebbles or like flints, each with a different texture, a different taste. She finds the weight and shape of each one before she opens her mouth and spits them out of the window, leaves them lying among the animal carcasses on the side of the endless road.

Surprisingly, I found the author's own review of her book, after five years, on Goodreads. In hindsight, Annabel Smith gives her own debut novel 3 out of 5 stars:

I've noticed most Goodreads authors give their own books five stars. I can see the logic of this from a marketing perspective but it seems a little ridiculous to me, and also a bit embarrassing to be so blatantly biased and lacking in self-reflection.

My book group recently decided to read my novel. Prior to our meeting, one member of the group discussed the ending with me and I found I couldn't remember it. So I decided I had better re-read it. So this 'review' of my own book is really more of a reflection based on re-reading it five years after its original publication.

It has faults, as I think most debut novels do. Many people commented that they found Grace, the central character of Book One, a little neurotic and I too became impatient with her at times.

However, it also has many aspects which I am proud of, and which I think are narratively satisfying, if i do say so myself!

The second part of the book is the one people seem to respond to the most. Readers identify with the character of Peter very much, and often comment on the authenticity of the settings, which are based on places I have lived. And though it is by no means what you would call a page-turner, there is a building of suspense which is exciting, in a very modest way.

Many people have commented on the poetic quality if the writing, as it is rich in descriptions. I have moved away from this style in my recent books but am glad to know there are people who appreciate this aspect of my first novel.

Journal Entry 10 by hp7935 at Leiden, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Thursday, March 28, 2013
even een berichtje om te laten weten dat het boek veilig is aangekomen
Ga er vandaag in beginnen, ik heb er veel zin in.
Dus dutch-flybabe nog even geduld

Journal Entry 11 by hp7935 at Leiden, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Monday, April 08, 2013
Het eerste gedeelte van de 4 had wat mij betreft korter gekund.
Ik dacht op een gegeven moment ik geef het tweede deel een kans maar als dit net zo hysterisch is als het eerste deel dan ben ik er wel klaar mee.
Ik ben blij dat ik dit besluit heb genomen aangezien de laatste drie delen echt veel beter zijn dan het eerste deel.
Al met al dus absoluut aan te bevelen, maar toch maar een 7 vanwege het eerste deel. Dit zette mij absoluut op het verkeerde been.

Journal Entry 12 by hp7935 at Leiden, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Released 6 yrs ago (4/18/2013 UTC) at Leiden, Zuid-Holland Netherlands


Gaat onderweg naar dutch-flybabe

Journal Entry 13 by wingSuzy26wing at Delft, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Het boek is bij mij aangekomen (maar ik ben niet dutch-flybabe :)). Bedankt voor het versturen hp7935 en wandering bedankt voor het ringen. Zodra ik mijn huidige boek uit heb, ga ik aan dit boek beginnen.

Journal Entry 14 by wingSuzy26wing at Delft, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Sunday, May 12, 2013
Truly beautiful story. Unlike the readers before me, I liked the first part best of all. Never have I seen this feeling of loneliness after your lover left described any better. It moved me quite a bit. I greatly admire Grace for taking action and going all the way to Melbourne in search of some answers. The parts about Frank and Madeleine were good stories in themselves, but Grace's story far outshines them for me.

22/5/2013: Sent to dutch-flybabe.

Journal Entry 15 by dutch-flybabe at Ede, Gelderland Netherlands on Thursday, May 23, 2013
This book arrived safely at my house today. Thanks Suzy26!
I'm 'between books' so this will be the next book I'm going to read.

Journal Entry 16 by dutch-flybabe at Ede, Gelderland Netherlands on Saturday, June 01, 2013
After reading the first two pages of the book I was very reluctant to pick up this book again. As other readers also said the first part of the book is not my cup of tea: although I understood the feeling you can have when a lover leaves I did not like the excessive writing out of all the scenarios of 'when Michael returns' for example. I loved reading about Peter and Madeleine; these stories were more straight forward but none the less filled with emotions that are very understandable.
Thanks for ringing this book wandering!

I will ask hema-verf to take this book to Castricum for bestfriends.

Journal Entry 17 by dutch-flybabe at Ede, Gelderland Netherlands on Sunday, June 09, 2013

Released 6 yrs ago (6/9/2013 UTC) at Ede, Gelderland Netherlands


Aangezien ik zoals het er nu naar uitziet, niet naar Castricum ga, breng ik 17 juni dit boek naar hema-verf. Zij zal het dan voor mij koerieren (bedankt!).

Journal Entry 18 by bestfriends at - Ergens in de provincie, Gelderland Netherlands on Sunday, June 30, 2013
Via Castricum en twee koeriers (marsala en hema-verf) vandaag bij mij aangekomen.
Ik was er namelijk zelf op het laatste moment ook niet bij. Maar het is toch nog goedgekomen!

Hartelijk dank!

Journal Entry 19 by bestfriends at - Ergens in de provincie, Gelderland Netherlands on Sunday, July 14, 2013
Sorry to say I didn't like the book all that much.

Something in the style of writing bothered me. What other readers call poetic or lyrical, I found extremely irritating and boring, especially it having been written in the present tense. I finished book 1 about Grace, gave the other two books an honest chance, but must admit I did not finish reading.

Just not my cup of tea. Will see to it that it continues its journey somehow, someday.

Journal Entry 20 by bestfriends at - Ergens in de provincie, Gelderland Netherlands on Monday, March 02, 2015

Released 5 yrs ago (3/2/2015 UTC) at - Ergens in de provincie, Gelderland Netherlands


Het werd tijd voor een nieuwe lezer!

Daarom dit veelgelezen en welbereisde boek uitgekozen voor de winnares van de thee/boek/chocolade sweepstake 2015.

Geen idee of alles naar wens en smaak zal zijn maar een echte bookcrosser weet daar altijd wel raad mee. Hopelijk veel eet- drink- en leesplezier!

Journal Entry 21 by wingInge1990wing at Son en Breugel (incl. Son, Breugel), Noord-Brabant Netherlands on Friday, March 06, 2015
Het plezier van eten en drinken komt zeker goed :) Voorlopig hoef ik geen thee en chocolade meer te kopen en kan ik mijn huisgenoten ook lekker trakteren :)

Journal Entry 22 by wingInge1990wing at Rhenen, Utrecht Netherlands on Saturday, June 23, 2018
Finally started reading it today and finished it in one stitting. Beautiful book.

Will keep this book apart for the meeting in castricum. Or one of my friends is interested than it will go to them.

Journal Entry 23 by wingInge1990wing at BC meeting 2018 in Castricum, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Sunday, July 08, 2018

Released 1 yr ago (7/8/2018 UTC) at BC meeting 2018 in Castricum, Noord-Holland Netherlands


Nee naar de meeting

Journal Entry 24 by wingbloedengelwing at Vosselaar, Antwerpen / Anvers Belgium on Friday, July 13, 2018
I would not look at the book twice in a library or booksale, but as it was left on the table at the end of the meeting I figured I'd give it the benefit of the doubt. According to the previous readers that might have veen a good choice.

Journal Entry 25 by wingbloedengelwing at Vosselaar, Antwerpen / Anvers Belgium on Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Ok, must be me, but I ... really liked the first part none of the others really liked. Lol

Journal Entry 26 by Anneke15 at Zwerfboekenrek station Turnhout in Turnhout, Antwerpen / Anvers Belgium on Saturday, February 22, 2020

Released 1 mo ago (2/22/2020 UTC) at Zwerfboekenrek station Turnhout in Turnhout, Antwerpen / Anvers Belgium


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