Monday, January 26, 2009
Star Gazing by Linda Gillard
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: http://www.lindagillard.co.uk/star-gazing.php and I got my copy of the book from the Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/ . 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.