I was quite excited to receive a pre-release copy of Sophie Duffy’s new book, Bright Stars. It’s always exciting to get a book before it’s released; there’s just something about getting to read a book before everyone else does. (I used to feel the same about reading the paper if I got it when the shop first opened, but since having S that doesn’t happen so much). I was especially excited to get a copy of this book, because it looked like it might be right up my street.
The protagonist of Bright Stars is Cameron Spark. His life seems to be falling apart a bit: there’s been some sort of scandal at his work (in the undeground vaults in Edinburgh where he works as a guide), so he’s been suspended; and he’s separated from his wife and has had to move back to his father’s house.
When he arrives at his father’s house though, there is a letter waiting for him. A blast from the past, in the form of an invitation to an event from Christie, a Canadian woman he met at university twenty-five years ago. Cameron was a bit of a misfit at nursery and made only three true friends: Christie, Tommo and Bex. They were firm friends until a terrible accient changed all of their lives.
Cameron is not sure whether to go to Christie’s party; what if Tommo and Bex are there too, and twenty-five years isn’t long enough, not enough water under the bridge as it were? On the other hand, he’s curious to see if it has!
I found it hard to get into this book; I’m not sure why, and if I’m honest that may have been more to do with the fact I was ill than the book itself – as once I was a couple of chapters in I was really intrigued! The story is cleverly spaced out, and assumes a base level of intelligence – it’s not all fed to you on a plate and insultingly obvious like a lot of books! It’s well written, which is a must for me when it comes to any book.
I loved that the characters were original, and all of the dialogue that went on in the book seemed natural, not forced or obvious – you know how in some books it seems like a character is saying something completely out of character, just to help with the plot in some way? There’s none of that here. I like the way it all fits together without there being parts that make you wonder why they were put there.
The book is also quite funny in places, which I wasn’t expecting. A lot of books – even the ones that have a quote on the front saying they’re amusing – are decidedly not funny! This one has some quite comic moments in it, which lightens the mood a bit right when you need it.
The one thing I didn’t like about this book is the footnotes. It’s all written in the first person, from Cameron’s perspective, and at various points there are footnotes – some of them several lines long. I sort of understand why they were put in, as they add a sort of authenticity to the story – as if it’s really a middle aged bloke telling the story of how his life is falling apart – but they did annoy me slightly.
I do think this is a great read, and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good story that can really catch you up in its goings on. It certainly had me thinking about what might be going on or what might happen next, how it would all end – when I should have been doing other things!
Bright Stars by Sophie Duffy is released this Thursday, 1st October.
NB I was provided with a copy of this book for the purpose of review, but all opinions are my own.