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Smoke in the Room

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The searing new novel from the internationally-acclaimed author of Taming the Beast, The Gospel According to Luke and Princesses & Pornstars.

Summer, Sydney, and holed up in a tiny flat off Broadway are idealistic American Adam, weary activist Graeme, and wild, misunderstood Katie. Each is searching for answers to life's biggest questions – why are we here; what is love; wh
ebook, 289 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Macmillan Australia (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  133 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strong character analysis. Symptoms of mental illness well depicted.
May 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: addiction, hard-tack
I recall that when this book was reviewed in the national papes, the flaming hoop that Maguire was asked to jump through repeatedly was the story of how it was written…your classic montage where plucky author recovers from adversity (a stroke at 29) and returns to her project to inject it with a new softness, a recognition of mortality and reluctance to move her character like chess pieces.

I have to say this really, really gets on my tits.

I’m not interested in the cult of the author. Sophie Cu
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has a lot to live up to as the 3rd of Emily Maguire's novels.
Choosing the issues to tackle of depression, anxiety, and suicidal intentions as her subject for this book is certainly gutsy and plucky to say the least.
Once again though, she pulls it off in exceptional style.
There is definitely a new softness to her characters in this novel than I have seen in the other 2. I believe her style of characters came about from her suffering a stroke mid way through writing the novel, as I have
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
Sometimes it's nice to just read a good story and this was one of those. Although completely different to most other books that I have rated four star; most of which are stunning, prose-rich tomes - this one got a high rating because I couldn't put it down. I was invested in the characters and I wanted to know what happened next. I also related to the themes, having dealt with the issues of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and so on in my own life. Which is bitter sweet; I wish I didn't re ...more
Michelle Prak
I'm glad I read this, though it was hard to stick with at times. The lifestyles of the three central characters - strange flat mates - were repellant to me, to be honest. Some conversations about life and happiness seemed a bit contrived but ultimately it was excellently wrought, with characters the reader can believe in and some hope emerging.
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent character study about an emotional screwed up woman, Katie, and American, Adam, who moves in for the summer. Worth reading.
Alex Rogers
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed it - not my usual kind of thing, and refreshing for that. An interesting portrayal of mental illness, lost youth, life's challenges and disappointments, set in modern Sydney. Well written with some very compelling characters.
3.5 stars. Maguire is a fantastic writer, but this is not her best.
Shona Kaye
Nov 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
Review posted first on

Adam is lost in grief for his dead wife. Graeme is lost to despair for a world that can’t be fixed. And Katie is lost to depression. That’s a lot of hopelessness in one tiny Australian flat. Nevertheless, that despair is what made Smoke in the Room a compelling read.

I read Emily Maguire’s earlier novel, Taming the Beast, and fell in love with the gritty style of prose and her flawed central characters.

This one… it’s a good read. There’s a lot of truth in it an
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Smoke in the Room was not as readable or enjoyable as Emily Maguire’s previous two novels. It felt a bit like a writer forcing herself to flex her muscle, to try new things. The novel suffers for it, but perhaps the writer is better.

None of the characters was able to elicit empathy. There was redemption, more so than its opposite. But you almost didn’t care that the characters were redeemed. There was not much plot. The story did not pull you along as had her previous novels. And while the chara
Oct 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
I'm not quite sure how I felt about this book. I enjoyed reading it and the characters were interesting, but didn't draw me in the same way Maguire's other two novels (Taming the Beast, Gospel According to Luke) did. In Smoke in the Room there is not really a lot of action that propels the story. (Maybe my problem is that I'm comparing this to her other novels) As is her usual style, Maguire writes about distinctive dark characters with depth put in unique situations. I really like Maguire's wri ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this, despite it's rather bleak subject matter and sad trio of characters. The three unlikely housemates, Katie, Adam and Graeme are all compelling and believable characters, and I warmed to each of them in different ways. There were elements in this that reminded me of the first Maguire novel I read, 'Taming the Beast', namely the depressed and disturbed young woman at the centre of the story. Bonus that it's set in Sydney so the places were all familiar to me. Thoroughly engross ...more
Liz Young
This is one of those books that I hated reading but kept going back to see what happened next.

Emily Maguire is a great writer. Her characters are so flawed and damaged. You would not like Katie if you met her in real life but as a character she is so real and raw. I just wanted someone to take her and get her the help she needed.

I just didn't like this book. It was too dark and uncomfortable to read.
Louise Omer
Sometimes poignant yet often plodding, I always find it hard to care for characters without a hint of passion or purpose. Probably an accurate depiction of life for some people, an unfulfilled life is hardly inspiring.
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, australian
This was the first book I have read by Emily Maguire. It was beautiful.

Three room-mates circle each others lives like a pack of wolves in this hungry, greedy novel. Maguire's writing is a work of art.
Lachlan Sims
Readable story of several intersecting lives, did not feel as intimate with the characters as "Gospel According to Luke"
May 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book from an Aussie writer. Katie is suffering from depression, Adam from grief and Graeme from life and a depression he hides.

Sad and hard to read in parts, but very engrossing.
This was a dark and powerful story. If the standard of this book is anything to go by, I will certainly be interested in reading the rest of Maguire's work. A compelling read.
Zuzu Burford
A great story. Such a different subject and extremely well written.
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