Thoughtful, Enthralling and Richly Detailed: Read an Extract from Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith

Thoughtful, Enthralling and Richly Detailed: Read an Extract from Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith

Start reading now

It’s November 1985, and in wintery Leningrad, 24-year-old Galina Kogan is trying desperately to come to terms with the unexpected death of her mother. It was always Galina and her mother against the world, and for the past few months, the pair had been quietly planning a move to America, that fabled land of freedom and prosperity a world away from the Soviet Union. Now Galina’s beloved mother is gone, and their grand plans seem to have died along with her. Grief-stricken, Galina can’t imagine emigrating alone.

But as she walks home dazedly from the hospital on the night of her mother’s death, Galina collides suddenly with a tall, blonde-haired man, who apologises profusely and after helping her up, introduces himself as Andrew Morrow, a mosaic artist from Melbourne, Australia. It’s a chance meeting, but to Galina it feels like an omen, and that very night, she makes up her mind. She will still emigrate, but not to America. No, her new home will be Australia.

A year later, Galina is settling into her life in Australia, but there are still many days when she feels out of place. As a Soviet Jew, her old life was defined by poverty and hardship, and the push and snarl of Russia’s virulent anti-Semitism, and Galina is finding it difficult to adjust to Australia’s easy-going ways. In a desperate bid to assimilate, she buys Australian food and clothes, and rations her time with fellow emigres, but Galina soon realises she feels more of an outsider than ever – and she is also very lonely.

It’s then that Galina decides to track down Andrew Morrow. He was the reason she came to Australia, after all, and she could certainly do with a few Australian friends. As it turns out, Andrew lives just a few minutes away from Galina, and when they reconnect, an unlikely friendship blossoms. Andrew’s family befriend Galina, too: there’s his mother, Sylvie, a housewife who chafes against the restrictions of domestic life, and his father, Leonard, a man whose staid exterior belies a host of creative aspirations and conflicted passions. And as Galina and the Morrows come to know each other, each of their lives begin to change in some remarkable and wholly unexpected ways…

The eighth novel from acclaimed Australian writer Andrea Goldsmith, Invented Lives is a compelling, powerful and compassionately told tale of loss, gain and love. Beginning with Galina as the sole narrator, the story expands to include the perspectives of Andrew, Sylvie and Leonard, and with their rich and complex inner lives, often very different from the faces they show to the world, each character is utterly captivating.

Galina’s story of exile and immigration particularly tugs at the heartstrings: as a persecuted Soviet Jew, she never felt like she quite belonged in Leningrad, and this feeling is only heightened when she arrives in Australia. Although she tries to ‘rub and scrape’ at her Russianness in an effort to fit in, she still feels like a stranger in a strange land, and for much of the novel, her Australian life and her Russian past exist uneasily together, ‘like a tandem bike with differently sized wheels’.

Goldsmith has set multiple novels in Melbourne, and Invented Lives has a strong and evocative sense of place. It’s interesting to experience the city through Galina’s eyes: on a trip to the Victoria Markets, there are a few minutes when Galina simply stands still, transfixed by the sight of all the fresh produce. ‘So many times in the past year she had been struck by the plentitude in Australia, but nothing could compare with this.’ Goldsmith’s research on life in the Soviet Union is meticulous, too, and Galina’s hometown, Leningrad, springs to vivid life.

Thoughtful, enthralling and richly detailed, Invented Lives is a story about starting life afresh, and all the joy and heartbreak that this entails. It reminds us about the importance of connection and friendship, and speaks to the life-changing experience of finally finding a place to belong.

A highly recommended read.

About the author:

Andrea Goldsmith originally trained as a speech pathologist and was a pioneer in the development of communication aids for people unable to speak.  Her first novel, Gracious Living, was published in 1989. This was followed by Modern InteriorsFacing the MusicUnder the Knife, and The Prosperous Thief, which was short-listed for the 2003 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Reunion was published in 2009, and The Memory Trap was awarded the 2015 Melbourne Prize. Her literary essays have appeared in Meanjin, Australian Book ReviewBest Australian Essays, and numerous anthologies. Andrea Goldsmith lives in Melbourne.

Purchase a copy of Invented Lives here 

Related Articles

A Delight to Read: Try an Extract from The Model Wife by Tricia Stringer

News

1 October 2019

A Delight to Read: Try an Extract from The Model Wife by Tricia Stringer

    Brilliant and Beguiling: Read an Extract from Christian White's, The Wife and the Widow

    News

    1 October 2019

    Brilliant and Beguiling: Read an Extract from Christian White's, The Wife and the Widow

      Utterly Delightful: Read an Extract from The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell

      News

      1 October 2019

      Utterly Delightful: Read an Extract from The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell

        Redemptive and Astonishing: Read an Extract from After the Flood by Kassandra Montag

        News

        30 September 2019

        Redemptive and Astonishing: Read an Extract from After the Flood by Kassandra Montag

          The Perfect Blend of Sweeping Historical Events, and Gripping Personal tales: Read an Extract from Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

          News

          30 September 2019

          The Perfect Blend of Sweeping Historical Events, and Gripping Personal tales: Read an Extract from Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

            P.S. The Perfect Sequel: Read an Extract From Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

            News

            30 September 2019

            P.S. The Perfect Sequel: Read an Extract From Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

              Remarkable. Highly Recommended: Read an Extract From The Devil’s Grip by Neal Drinnan

              News

              24 September 2019

              Remarkable. Highly Recommended: Read an Extract From The Devil’s Grip by Neal Drinnan

                A Wonderful Love Story: Read an Extract From Lost in the Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich

                News

                18 September 2019

                A Wonderful Love Story: Read an Extract From Lost in the Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich

                  A Tapestry of Compelling Memories, Tales and Profound Lessons: Read an Extract From Sleep by Catherine Cole

                  News

                  18 September 2019

                  A Tapestry of Compelling Memories, Tales and Profound Lessons: Read an Extract From Sleep by Catherine Cole

                    Nicci French is the Master of Psychological Suspense: Read an Extract From The Lying Room

                    News

                    17 September 2019

                    Nicci French is the Master of Psychological Suspense: Read an Extract From The Lying Room

                      Synopsis

                      Knowing what you want is hard. Accepting what is possible is harder still.It is the mid-1980s. In Australia, stay-at-home wives jostle with want-it-all feminists, while AIDS threatens the sexual freedom of everyone. On the other side of the world, the Soviet bloc is in turmoil.Mikhail Gorbachev has been in power for a year when twenty-four-year-old book illustrator Galina Kogan leaves Leningrad — forbidden ever to return. As a Jew, she’s inherited several generations worth of Russia’s chronic anti-Semitism. As a Soviet citizen, she is unprepared for Australia and its easy-going ways.Once settled in Melbourne, Galina is befriended by Sylvie and Leonard Morrow, and their adult son, Andrew. The Morrow marriage of thirty years balances on secrets. Leonard is a man with conflicted desires and passions, while Sylvie chafes against the confines of domestic life. Their son, Andrew, a successful mosaicist, is a deeply shy man. He is content with his life and work — until he finds himself increasingly drawn to Galina.While Galina grapples with the tumultuous demands that come with being an immigrant in Australia, her presence disrupts the lives of each of the Morrows. No one is left unchanged.Invented Lives tells a story of exile: exile from country, exile at home, and exile from one’s true self.It is also a story about love.
                      Andrea Goldsmith
                      About the author

                      Andrea Goldsmith

                      Andrea Goldsmith originally trained as a speech pathologist and was a pioneer in the development of communication aids for people unable to speak.  Her first novel, Gracious Living, was published in 1989. This was followed by Modern InteriorsFacing the MusicUnder the Knife, and The Prosperous Thief, which was short-listed for the 2003 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Reunion was published in 2009, and The Memory Trapwas awarded the 2015 Melbourne Prize. Her literary essays have appeared in MeanjinAustralian Book ReviewBest Australian Essays, and numerous anthologies. Andrea Goldsmith lives in Melbourne.
                       

                      Books by Andrea Goldsmith

                      COMMENTS

                      Leave a Reply

                      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *