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.


'Inventive, moving, superb' The Australian

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.


'Prepare to have your heart broken and mended and broken again as you flit with everywoman Margaret Bryce - Aberdonian housewife and unwilling phantom - through scenes in her life that tumble over its boundaries. Paul Dalgarno writes with mischievous delight and compassionate intelligence on that which animates us in the face of mortality, exhuming what is unremembered with clear-eyed wisdom and impeccable craft. 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

'Paul Dalgarno's luminous novel is transportive, taking us on a metaphysical literary journey that interrogates the nature of death while exploring the outer limits of grief. Uncanny, evocative and droll, A Country of Eternal Light reminds us that no one is ever truly gone and sometimes, like this book, we don't want them to leave' – Chris Flynn, author of Mammoth

'A balance of electric brightness and sequestered shadows - a powerful, rollicking and memorable narrative. The reader is invited to be intimate with the experience of revisiting the past, hoping for the future and regretting what cannot be changed. A philosophical, emotional and entertaining work, startlingly imagined' – Angela Meyer, author of A Superior Spectre

'Wonderful, heartbreaking and beautiful. Dalgarno weaves time, family and love effortlessly. A book that will continue to echo in my heart' – R.W.R. McDonald, author of The Nancys

'Such playfulness of language and gloriousness of detail. So unique and inventive. I am in awe' – Michelle Johnston, author of Tiny Uncertain Miracles

'A magical and invigorating ride. A joyful, tender novel about an unusual family, showing playfulness at every turn' – Laura Elvery, author of Ordinary Matter

'Wildly inventive and bursting with heart, Paul Dalgarno's A Country of Eternal Light is one of the most original meditations on life, love and family you'll ever come across. At its core are the questions: how is a life constructed from the memories we choose to remember, and what of...

A Country of Eternal Light