In her first collection of short fiction dee Hobsbawn-Smith creates protagonists struggling to navigate the domestic troubles common to life everywhere, including children attempting to make their parents proud, the disintegrating of romantic relationships, and dealing with death and loss. Her stories are rife with the disasters of homelessness, domestic violence, and child abuse, as she exposes the difficulties that arise in relationships between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and parents and children. Hobsbawn-Smith’s keen observation and the unflinching eye which she directs towards her characters’ flaws bring the land and its inhabitants into painful focus as they grapple with loss.
What Can’t Be Undone is a collection anchored in the Western Canadian landscape, and the natural imagery which has become synonymous to the area reigns supreme. These stories are strongly informed by local colour. Horses’ hooves echo from coulee walls, blue jays, crows, and eagles announce the seasons, and coyotes wail from distant valleys as Hobsbawn-Smith travels with her protagonists across rolling prairies, unforgiving mountain ranges, and along coastal highways.