Wednesday, 13 May 2015

"The Life and Death of Sophie Stark" by Anna North

Thanks to W&N for supplying an ARC in return for an honest review...

Sophie Stark is unusual.  From childhood she spent most of her time alone, or in her brother's company and was always on the edge of her peer circle.  When she moved off to college, her life took a curious turn.  She became interested in directing movies and required little or no assistance. Through the eyes of six different characters, the reader begins to unravel the intense personality of Sophie Stark, and gets a glimpse into the troubled mind of a young woman on the permanent edge of sanity...

Anna North is a seasoned journalist so I was expecting a certain writing standard.  However, her talent as a creative writer is phenomenal.  She writes with raw passion, deep and dark intensity and uses clever techniques to draw us into a murky world we know little about.  Sophie is a damaged and dangerous girl.  Like a preying mantis, she draws people close, makes them fall under her spell, then chews them up and spits them out.  Each character recalls their encounters with the director and the narrative rarely overlaps (which can be repetitive in some novels).  The overall shadow that Sophie casts is one of self-motivation, coldness and dramatic indifference.  The ability to create a protagonist like Sophie Stark is no mean feat.  There are moments in this novel where the prose is reminiscent of strong novelist voices, like Margaret Atwood or Kate Atkinson.  The sadness of the story dragged me down somewhat though, as harsh bullying, difficult childhood experiences and a lack of ambition seeped out of some of the characters.  The tone is dark, with little light breaking through, but it is a novel that should be read and savoured.  Not every cloud has a silver lining, some are just prequels to a storm...

A highly recommended debut.

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is published by Weindenfeld & Nicolson in ebook format on 18th May 2015 and in paperback in 2016.

1 comment:

  1. This isn't normally one I would go for but from your review it sounds like a good read. Thanks for sharing



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