Monday, January 26, 2009

Star Gazing by Linda Gillard

I bought this one on a punt, because the premise intrigued me: a woman blind from birth who visits the Isle of Skye with a man who says it's so she can see the stars. That sounds clunky and suggestive, and in some ways cliched, but it isn't. It's a lyrical, engrossing, well-written novel that I'm really glad to have read.

To start at the end, as I closed this book I realised that, in a way, we all come blind to any novel we read, dependent on the author's words to make the novel's world visible to us. Maybe we have other visual experience on which to draw - we've been to Edinburgh, or seen pictures, or know what leafless birch tree looks like - but even so, we come blind. I hadn't quite thought of it in those terms before.

The story is substantially told from multiple points of view - Marianne, the blind woman; Keir, the man she meets; Louise, her novelist sister. I got a fascinating insight into what must seem unimaginable if you've never had sight - how to explain a wheeling mass of birds in the sky, or glass? It's not at all a sentimental book - part of the attraction between Marianne and Keir is the fact that he doesn't make unnecessary or patronising concessions to her blindness, but instead finds ways to challenge her, and to provide musical analogies to explain the unexplainable.

The author has a website here:  and I got my copy of the book from the Book Depository . Not sure if it's in Australian or US bookshops as yet.

Recently I read The Forgotten Garden, and have now mostly forgotten it as I didn't enjoy it at all. This, however, is one I'm going to be happily recommending to friends - better written, better story, more engaging characters.

Oops: I typed the heroine's name as Margaret, when it's Marianne.  The author kindly pointed this out, so I'm happy to have fixed it.



Linda Gillard said...

Thanks for your terrific review! I'm the author. :-) I'm so glad you enjoyed it. (Would you mind if I pointed out that my heroine's name is Marianne, not Margaret?)

I loved the photo you've posted of STAR GAZING sitting on a patchwork quilt. I make quilts myself so I'm pleased to have discovered your lovely blog. My first novel EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY is about a textile artist. Let me know if you'd like a copy to review.

Linda Gillard said...

Me again. I forgot to mention that STAR GAZING has been shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year in the UK. The winner will be announced on Feb 10th.

rooruu said...

@ Linda - oops, the author catches out my mistyping/misremembering! I've fixed it - thanks for letting me know, I'd rather have it right. Good luck with the award - and I've actually already ordered a copy of Emotional Geology, but thank you for the kind offer. And for writing such a good book!