Star Gazing by Linda Gillard

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Star Gazing by Linda Gillard

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Intelligent women's fiction - a story driven by issues rather than froth - and highy recommended by Bookbag. Leave yourself time to read because once you reach a certain point you simply won't be able to put it down. You can also read an interview with Linda Gillard.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: May 2008
Publisher: Piatkus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0749938970

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Marianne Fraser lives in Edinburgh with her sister, Louisa Potter, who writes novels about werewolves under the nom de plume of Waverley Ross. It's a lonely life for Marianne who was widowed in her twenties when her husband died in the Piper Alpha disaster. She's now forty five and there's a sensation that life has passed her by, despite all her best endeavours. That's not her only problem though.

Marianne is congenitally blind. She has never had any vision at all. When you say 'blue' or 'cathedral' or 'starlight' Marianne has no conception of what you mean – at all. Her passion is music, which paints scenes for her that no words can ever do and it's a passion which she shares with Keir. She met him one winter evening when she dropped her house key where it couldn't be found and her fallen shopping bag bled wine all over the doorstep. Oh, and there's one other thing that you ought to know about Keir.

He wants to take Marianne to Skye so that he can show her the stars.

Here at Bookbag we're tired of twenty-something females whose only problem is that they're totally unaware of how gorgeous their sweet natures, long blond hair and even longer legs really are. We're tired of impossibly handsome men who can't believe that this woman could love them for themselves. We've been uncharitable enough to wish them some dreadful fates, so it was refreshing to meet a heroine who really did have a lot to contend with. But you mustn't get the wrong idea about Marianne.

This woman is definitely not a victim. She doesn't want and won't get your sympathy.

She's intelligent, bright, witty and capable of understanding herself and her motives with a clarity we should all envy. She has a pithy turn of phrase and despite all the problems she has an adventurous spirit, so what is there to stop her going off to Skye with Keir? I mean they're just going as friends, aren't they? There's nothing more to it. There's a bit of a problem with Keir, you see. Well, more than a bit of a problem, actually. He's in his forties and not really that sociable. If you're blunt you might say that there are times when he's downright rude. Worst of all from Marianne's point of view is that Keir is an oil man like her late husband and there are some things that you can't go through again.

So, they're just going to go off to Skye as friends. Obviously.

I reached a point with this book when I simply couldn't put it down. I'm not even going to hint at what happens other than to say that I was reading at three o'clock this morning desperate to find out how the book ended. There were times when I laughed out loud and one point where it was all I could do to hold the tears back. This story has more twists than a corkscrew.

It's intelligent fiction. The story springs from Marianne's blindness – it's not just something that's imported to give the tale a novel twist. When you read you'll gain some understanding not just of what it's like to be blind but what it's like never to have seen, not to be able to imagine what a building or a beach looks like. It's not just your emotions that this book will engage. You'll need your brain too.

The book's highly recommended and I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Strangely enough I couldn't help but think of a book by Adrienne Dines – Soft Voices Whispering – as I read this book and there was almost a sensation of patting myself on the back as I saw the name in the author's acknowledgements. We think that you might also enjoy Uphill All the Way by Sue Moorcroft.

Bookinterviews.jpg Linda Gillard was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

Booklists.jpg Star Gazing by Linda Gillard is in the Top Ten Books For Your Mother.

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Buy Star Gazing by Linda Gillard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Star Gazing by Linda Gillard at


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Linda Gillard said:

Thanks, Sue, for the fab review. I'm the author. :-)

I know what you mean about reaching that certain point. A friend rang up in a state to say she couldn't read on unless I could assure her it would all turn out all right in the end. (I won't reveal how I replied.)

Linda Gillard

Sue replied:

I can well believe that, Linda and I could probably tell you which page she was on! It really is a superb book and all of us here at the Bookbag hope that it does well.

Adrienne Dines said:

Sue - I'm flattered that reading Star Gazing put you in mind of Soft Voices Whispering. I was living in Aberdeen at the time of Piper Alpha and am an oil wife so I can relate closely to Marianne's anxiety. Linda has nailed the emotion perfectly as she always does. I loved Star gazing and your review comments have put a smile on my face!