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Between Water and the Night Sky

Between Water and the Night Sky

Author: Simone Lazaroo

Publisher: Fremantle Press

Published: February 2023

Described as a work of auto-fiction and based on the lives of Simone Lazaroo’s parents, Between Water and the Night Sky focuses on the lives of Francis and Elspeth, who are drawn together in late 1950s Perth. Francis has recently arrived from Singapore to undertake an engineering degree, and Elspeth has left her Wheatbelt home to study French and literature. With the White Australia Policy still in effect, they must weather the prejudices and racist attitudes of both family and strangers if they are to build a life together.

Their story is narrated by daughter Eva, who alludes to her father’s increasing absence and her mother’s pervading sadness even before she is old enough to comprehend the causes, with dreams used to hint at past ordeals. The narrative is told episodically, akin to a series of snapshots in a photograph album, reflecting not only the fragmentary nature of memory, particularly as it relates to trauma, but also Francis and Eva’s avid interest in the art of photography itself. Capturing moments in time, processing negatives and developing images, as well as references to light and dark, become recurring motifs throughout the novel.

Lazaroo writes with a tenderness for her characters, and places her trust in the reader to fill in the gaps and silences between and within scenes, resulting in a story that is very much greater than the sum of its parts. Evocatively and poetically told, Between the Water and the Night Sky will have readers searching out Lazaroo’s previous work once they have finished savouring the pages of this one.


Reviewed by Melinda Tognini

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