A Country of Eternal Light

ebook The beautiful, moving new novel from the celebrated author of Poly. Shortlisted for THE AGE BOOK OF THE YEAR and READINGS NEW AUSTRALIAN FICTION PRIZE in 2023.

By Paul Dalgarno

cover image of A Country of Eternal Light

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An astonishingly inventive, playful, witty, poignant and deeply moving novel from one of Australia's most exciting writers.

Shortlisted for THE AGE BOOK OF THE YEAR and THE READINGS NEW AUSTRALIAN FICTION PRIZE in 2023.


Margaret Bryce, deceased mother of twins, has been having a hard time since dying in 2014. These days she spends time with her daughters - Eva in Madrid, and Rachel and her family in Melbourne - and her estranged husband, Henry, in Aberdeen. Mostly she enjoys the experience of revisiting the past, but she's tiring of the seemingly random events to which she repeatedly bears witness. There must be something more to life, she thinks. And death.

Spanning more than seventy-five years, from 1945 to 2021, A Country of Eternal Light follows Margaret as she flits from wartime Germany to Thatcher's Britain to modern-day Scotland, Australia and Spain, ruminating on everything from the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster and Australia's Black Summer bushfires to Mary Queen of Scots' beheading, the death of Princess Diana and in-vitro fertilisation. But why is facing up to what's happened in one's past as hard as, if not harder than, blocking it out completely? A poignant, utterly original and bitingly funny novel about complicated grief and how we remain wanted by our loved ones, dead or alive.

PRAISE FOR A COUNTRY OF ETERNAL LIGHT

'Inventive and moving ... superb' The Australian

'A startlingly ambitious novel ... astonishingly accomplished, bittersweet, poignant and funny. Paul Dalgarno has gifted the world something quite rare. A novel that is not only an immersive, engaging, and entertaining read, but one that makes us think. The year is young indeed, but I am quietly confident this wonderful novel might well be my favourite read for 2023.' Readings

'Playful ... shimmering ... a delight ... [Dalgarno] is an author whose sense of playfulness establishes the terms and conditions of an eminently readable narrator: charismatic yet patient, moulded by an elastic sense of the plausible, and yet anchored by exactly the right feeling for the truths that matter most when confronted with the long view of a life in full.' Sydney Morning Herald

'Often playful and always deep, an underlying sadness penetrates these pages. Then again, so does joy, with passages capable of eliciting laughter and tears in quick succession ... these reruns of life combine humour and heart with beautiful prose, in glorious detail ... A Country of Eternal Light overflows with beauty and pain, twin concepts with emotional tendrils that are irrevocably intertwined. A subtle sense of foreboding permeates this stunning narrative about the ephemeral nature of human life, culminating in a conclusion capable of cracking a reader in two.' Artshub

'Prepare to have your heart broken and mended and broken again ... Paul Dalgarno writes with mischievous delight and compassionate intelligence. I gasped in sheer wonder on finishing this illuminating meditation on the demands of grief, time and love that fragment and bind a family; Mary Shelley would clap her hands in delight at such an audacious creation' - Josephine Taylor, author of Eye of a Rook

'Luminous, transportive, A Country of Eternal Light takes us on a metaphysical literary journey that interrogates the nature of death while exploring the outer limits of grief. Uncanny, evocative and droll.' - Chris Flynn, author of Mammoth

'A balance of electric brightness and sequestered shadows - a powerful, rollicking and memorable narrative. A philosophical, emotional and entertaining work, startlingly imagined' - Angela Meyer, author of A Superior...

A Country of Eternal Light