Sophie Laguna’s Infinite Splendours is a heart-wrenching and gruelling read. It’s also an eloquent and stunningly descriptive novel which conveys a story that is both difficult to watch as it unfolds, and impossible to turn away from. It has all of the voyeuristic magnetism of an accident waiting to happen. The reader can see what is coming and yet Laguna manages to keep the level of engagement so finely tuned that you’re engrossed and edge-of-seat involved to the point you want to actively warn the innocent parties, and intervene in their blissfully unaware lives to stop the inevitable from occurring.
The story focuses on the central character of Lawrence Loman who is exceptional. He’s a kind, compassionate, caring and curious child. A gifted student and a great sportsman, he’s well-rounded and sure to succeed. The future looks assured for him whichever way Lawrence wants to invest his numerous talents.
All of that changes swiftly when he becomes the victim of a narcissist. So rapidly is his well-laid life usurped, nobody who knows him intimately can even guess what has occurred as their own lives are upended in unexpected ways. As it unfolds, the reader is consumed by the fear the victim will become the perpetrator. After all, as we step outside the story, we realise this is one with which many of us are familiar. We’ve seen the statistics and we almost know how things will end. And yet, as much as it is an horrific story of cruelty and corruption, it’s also one of hope and strange redemption.
Laguna is a mistress of the art of storytelling. She writes with clarity and compassion about the marginalised; and in this way also gives us the gift of heightened awareness, while also delivering a gripping read. Expect to be transported to another world and to leave it reluctantly with a new perspective.
Reviewer: Peta Stavelli
Allen and Unwin