Monday, April 4, 2022

Book Review: Sister Stardust

By Melissa Amster

In her first novel inspired by a true story, Jane Green re-imagines the life of troubled icon Talitha Getty in this transporting story from a forgotten chapter of the Swinging '60s

From afar Talitha's life seemed perfect. In her twenties, and already a famous model and actress, she moved from London to a palace in Marrakesh, with her husband Paul Getty, the famous oil heir. There she presided over a swirling ex-pat scene filled with music, art, free love and a counterculture taking root across the world.

When Claire arrives in London from her small town, she never expects to cross paths with a woman as magnetic as Talitha Getty. Yearning for the adventure and independence, she's swept off to Marrakesh, where the two become kindred spirits. But beneath Talitha's glamourous façade lurks a darkness few can understand. As their friendship blossoms and the two grow closer, the realities of Talitha's precarious existence set off a chain of dangerous events that could alter Claire's life forever. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I have been a fan of Jane Green's writing ever since I picked up Jemima J back in 2002. Her style has evolved over time from dating stories to those of marriage and relationships. However, her latest, Sister Stardust, is a complete change from everything she's ever written. It was still a well-told story that I became easily absorbed in.

Right before I started reading this novel, I had watched the movie Last Night in Soho. As a result, a lot of aspects from this novel reminded me of that movie. Except for the horror parts, of course. Some other aspects from this novel made me think of Daisy Jones and the Six. After reading Sister Stardust, I had to go online and look up Talitha Getty right away. The image of her in my mind was so different from what I saw on my screen, but she still seemed mesmerizing. I couldn't find information on Lissy, Dave, or Eddie, so I'm assuming they were made up. They seemed so real though!

Claire was a good protagonist and I enjoyed seeing everything through her eyes. I love how people just accepted her presence and helped her fit in. It reminded me of when I would go to midnight viewings of Rocky Horror back in the day. I loved Talitha's friendship with Claire and actually was jealous of Claire because of that. The hedonistic feel of the story was enjoyable and there was a really steamy scene that I appreciated, to say the least. 

I was not a fan of all the drugs, even though I know it was part of the time period and culture. (I usually don't like when characters do drugs in any book though.) I was annoyed that Claire let herself get caught up in all that when she could have said no. (I guess one of the Sweet Valley High books really did a number on me. Apparently I'm not alone in feeling that way.) After the climax, the story seemed to slow down a bit, but it was still interesting. I felt bad for Talitha though. 

Overall, this was a worthwhile read that shows how talented Jane Green is at writing something completely different from her usual fare. 

Movie casting suggestions:
Claire: Phoebe Dynevor
Talitha: Talula Riley (If you look at her other pictures, you'll see why I picked her)
Paul: Jack Davenport
Eddie: Finn Jones
Lissy: Stefanie Martini
Dave: Theo James
Jimmy: Alex Garland

Thanks to Harlequin for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Jane Green:

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