The Atlas of Us by Tracy Buchanan (Review)

*spoiler alert*

A stormy love affair. A secret. A discovery that changes everything…


Louise Fenton flies to a devastated Thailand to search for her mother, missing following the Boxing Day tsunami. The only trace she can find is her mother’s distinctive bag. Inside it is a beautifully crafted atlas belonging to z writer named Claire Shreve. But what is the connection between Claire and Louise’s missing mum, and can the atlas help Louise find her?

As Louise explores the mementos and notes slipped between the pages of the atlas she learns the story of a life changing revelation, a tragedy and a passionate love affair. And she uncovers a secret that nearly destroyed Claire and the man she loved – the same secret her mother has been guarding all these years…


Tracy Buchanan really takes you through emotional turmoils throughout this book as you follow two women’s stories: Louise Fenton and Claire Shreve. Both women lead strikingly different lives but find themselves through the travesties they face.

The book covers topics such as: infertility, tragedy, loss, grief and relationships to great depth. Occasionally, books do miss the mark when authors try to describe situations that they’ve never faced themselves, but not this one – Buchanan seems to get it. Claire’s struggles with her infertility are made clear from the beginning of the novel and following the sequence of events that leads to her acceptance of it is both upsetting and empowering. I found following Claire’s journey more to my tastes but I relate to her wanderlust and hope to be a travel journalist myself one day. My heart went out to her while reading about her difficulties with infertility. It gave me a much better understanding of a topic I had little knowledge about. 

Louise thought she knew what she wanted: the perfect family. She figured hers was it and that her girls were the very centre of her world. Until the news of the 2004 Thailand Tsunami hit and she realised her mum could have been caught up in it. Her character growth was inspiring and developed at a pace that made sense to her storyline. Being used to the family life, it’s clear that Louise lost herself along the way and watching as she rebuilds herself – and her life – is inspiring. Getting the nitty gritty about her and her mums relationship makes you realise that no matter what difficulties you may face, you have to hold those you love closest to you. 

The way in which the women’s stories intertwine is fascinating and takes you down a very intense and winding path. There are plenty of plot twists along the way to keep you gripped on this book. I appreciate the addition of their love interests: Ben, Will and Milo. I like how this book doesn’t make any of the characters out to be ‘perfect’ and that all of them are hiding their own demons. You’ll go through all the phases of love and hate with them as their characters develop throughout the book. 

Whilst some parts of the novel felt predictable, I didn’t feel that to be an issue as it made the story more realistic. The ending was sweet but I can’t decide if I liked it or not. However, it did give a definite conclusion to every characters story and didn’t leave unnecessary cliffhangers. You’ll meet many other characters other than just the five I’ve mentioned. But I’ll let you find out who they are for yourself. Can’t be spoiling the book now can I? 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and struggled to put it down. I highly recommend you to read it. Buchanan will take you on a tour of the world from the comfort of your seat. I’d rate this 4.5/5. Are there any books you’ve read recently that you’d recommend? 


Until next time,

Luce xo


  • Sahara

    This book sounds so interesting – I’m always looking to add books to my to-be-read list, sometimes I think it is getting too long though! That’s great the characters are written as not perfect but imperfect. I love a good book that always keeps me guessing what’s going to happen next!


    • lhope884

      Yeah it’s a really good read! Oh honestly, mine is overflowing at this point haha. I like imperfect characters otherwise you just can’t connect with them. This one is good for that most of the time. Thanks for reading!

      Luce x

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