Annabel Smith's Reviews > Geography: A Novel

Geography by Sophie Cunningham
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Mar 15, 12

bookshelves: australian

Geography is an intense, absorbing novel, an erotic, emotive narrative which explores the point at which passion becomes obsession.

Whilst travelling through India, Catherine tells her newfound friend and travelling companion Ruby the story of her intense love affair with a man named Michael. Thus the story moves between the past and present, drawing connections between the two in its exploration of friendship, love, desire and the search for a sense of place.

Catherine’s travels in India are grounded in the real; she seems fully present in what she is experiencing. This provides a sharp contrast to her ‘relationship’ with Michael, which seems mostly to be a construct of her imagination, built on a flimsy framework of occasional sexual encounters and sporadic faxes and emails. Unable to accept her brief, intense affair with Michael as just that, Catherine convinces herself it is a grand passion and loses herself pursuing a man who can never give her what she seeks. It is only in telling her story to Ruby that this becomes clear to Catherine and she can begin the process of reclaiming herself.

Cunningham’s descriptions of India are vivid and beautiful and Catherine’s journey through India provides relief from the chronicle of her obsessive relationship with Michael. However, Cunningham does not allow the story of Catherine’s travels in India to take over the novel, making it just another travel book, or yet another book about India. She manages to maintain the perfect balance between the two threads of the narrative and it is this interweaving which makes the novel work.
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