Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
Firstly I would like to say about “The Life and Death of Sophie Stark” that not only is it one of my favourite books that I have read this year, but it has also gone immediately onto my favourite books of all time list. So there is that.
I was not sure about it originally – but the thing with this novel is that it sucks you in with some poignant and gorgeous writing and every single character is full of depth, realism and an often ironic edge that is just simply brilliantly done.
Sophie Stark is a film maker. We never hear from her directly in the story but we do hear from an ensemble cast of characters who have been deeply effected by their interactions with her. She is an enigma, we meet her only through the eyes of others, still a profound picture starts to emerge of a troubled creative soul. Even so is this the real Sophie? Well that is the unique twist to this novel, we may guess but can never know…
The author uses her characters to give both a public and private view of Sophie – from her lovers to her family and beyond. Sometimes only peripherally touching a life, Sophie still seems to have formed some part of it and for me she felt like a whirlwind of a human being, touching down briefly then drifting away, tempestuous and suddenly changing lives without warning.
Imaginatively speaking this is alluring, I melted into the descriptions of Sophie’s films, I wanted to watch every single one and indeed felt like I had. Then of course, through the telling we learn so much about the characters who are talking, their hopes dreams and fears, their lives both with and without her. As a character piece this is a truly impressive and magnificently constructed story – Anna North knows how to weave words around the reader and bring them into the world that she has created.
I was quite simply heartbroken at the end of this. Even now it is bittersweet. A book I shall return to again and again I’m sure, I really cannot recommend this highly enough.
This is what storytelling is all about.