Claire grew up in a small town, far from the glitz and glamour of London. Ridiculed by her stepmother Linda, and harboring a painful crush on her brother’s best friend, she has begun to outgrow the life laid out before her. On the cusp of adulthood in the late 1960s, Claire yearns for the adventure and independence of a counter-culture taking root across the world.
One day a chance encounter leads to an unexpected opportunity. Whispers of a palace in Morocco. A getaway where famous artists, models, fashion designers and musicians – even the Rolling Stones – have been known to visit.
When Claire arrives in Marrakesh, she’s swept up in a heady world of music, drugs and communal living. But one magnetic young woman seems to hold sway over the entire scene. Talitha Getty, socialite wife of the famous oil heir, has pulled everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Marianne Faithfull into her orbit. Yet when she meets Claire, the pair instantly connect. As they grow closer, and the inner circle tightens, the realities of Talitha’s precarious life set off a chain of dangerous events that could alter Claire’s life forever.
What I Thought:
I’m familiar with Jane Green from reading some of her early novels, so was really interested to see how she would approach a story that’s based in real-life. In Sister Stardust, Jane Green uses the eyes of a fictional character to evoke the atmosphere of swinging London and 1960’s Marrakesh, which allows a real depth of description as country-mouse Claire takes in all the experiences she is offered, thanks to her chance connection with the bold, beautiful and famous of the 1960s.
Although the book is primarily about Claire – by this time known as Cece – and her interactions with Talitha Getty, I felt that it was much more about that whole time in history, when the world was still recovering from a devastating war, the staid and repressed 1950s had passed and young people were discovering that they did not have to follow the same path as their parents and could remake themselves in any way they wanted.
Seeing this period through Cece’s eyes gives it a brightness and newness that is really fascinating and she, as a character is, a great device for viewing the world that the Gettys made for themselves in Marrakesh. Cece is able to sometimes participate in that way of living, but sometimes stand alongside what’s going on – she’s almost like a Greek chorus at times, providing a more innocent lens on what was a decadent way of living, unknown to most of us.
The Gettys themselves were really interesting, and this book is a great entry into their world, with an excellent list of further reading if you want to know more about them and the time.
Although the book, as described by Cece, is mostly upbeat it is easy to see the difficulties faced by Talitha Getty, her struggles with her mental health and dependence on drugs. Jane Green does touch on the trauma of her early life which must have inevitably taken its toll, and does an expert job in creating a real character out of Talitha – very often real-life characters in fiction can have a two-dimensional feel to them – but I felt that Talitha was fully fleshed-out here and, despite her riches and fame, you can’t help but feel sorry for the pain she experienced in her early life.
This book is very much a love letter to the 1960s, and Talitha Getty, and it will give you a really good feel for that era. The scenes in Marrakesh in particular are alive with the sights, sounds and smells of the souk and this is a welcome exploration from Jane Green of a style of novel that’s new to her.
Sister Stardust is published by Harper360.
About the Author:
Jane Green is the author of twenty-one novels, including eighteen New York Times Bestsellers, one cookbook and various short stories.
She is published in over 25 languages, and has over ten million books in print worldwide.
She has been part of the ABC News team covering royal weddings, has had her own radio show on BBC Radio London, and has made regular appearances on TV and radio.
She contributes to a number of newspapers and magazines, and is a graduate of the International Culinary Institute in New York. Green is an avid cook, amateur decorator, and passionate gardener. She is also a regular storyteller for The Moth. Her first story for The Moth, Greener Grass, was video taped and subsequently went viral on Facebook, with over three million views.
A resident of Westport, Connecticut, she lives there with her husband and a small menagerie of animals. Her children swear they have flown the nest, but she’s not sure she believes them. In her next life she wants to come back as Elin Hilderbrand.
This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of Sister Stardust by Jane Green – check out the participating blogs below for more reviews and exclusive content.
Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.