Author: Kate Glanville
Published by: Accent Press; UK ed. edition
Publication date: 14 Jan. 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Bury Library
“Stargazing tells the story of three women connected by one man – Daniel. He is father to newly widowed Seren, husband to talented gardener Nesta and lover to fragile artist Frankie. When Daniel leaves Nesta and their beautiful home in the middle of the party to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary Seren’s world begins to crumble. She’d always thought that her parent’s had the perfect marriage and only the continuation of the family ideal can help her cope with her grief over her husband’s early death. But Nesta isn’t so sure she wants Daniel back; she is learning to appreciate her new found independence and memories from her past make her wonder if she can make a new life somewhere very different. For Frankie, Daniel offers hopes of safety and security; maybe she can stop running away from her fears and finally start painting again. But all three women are carrying secrets that they’ve kept hidden even from those closest to them. Secrets that threaten to emerge and shatter all their hopes for the future.”
Stargazing was one of my ‘quick grabs’ from the local library that my (now) four year old son picked out for me while I was deliberating and taking too long to decide what to read. I am thoroughly pleased that this is what he picked out for me! Stargazing is a novel that surprises the reader and keeps them coming back for more – something that I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be getting upon first glance.
The main characters, Seren, Nesta, Frankie and Daniel are all very individual characters that are well developed and only continue to grow as the story progresses – a rare trait from romance fiction – which makes them all the more enjoyable. Seren is a head-strong individual and determined in her path to find a way to bring her mother and father back together, even if it means incriminating Frankie. Nesta, resentful towards Daniel for leaving her, uncertain about where her path in life should take her. And Frankie, a woman so down-beaten by her troubled past that she seems weak and needy compared to the other women in Daniels life who is thrust in the midst of it all due to one being his daughter, ex-wife and new lover. Stargazing is an engaging story full of twists and turns that the reader (Or at least I) doesn’t see coming!
There are a lot more characters thrown into the mixture; Serens ten-year-old son, her former lovers, family friends and newly arrived lovers are all rather prominent but despite the number of points of view thrown into the mix the story doesn’t get confused; which seems a bit of a feat in and of itself. Not once did I frown and have to ‘recap’ to figure out who was who and that was a great relief and goes to show how well developed and written each character is.
The plot was easy to follow even with the unexpected twists it involved which again is a credit to the author and as the story progressed it became a lot more difficult to put the book down as it just begged you to carry on a little bit longer until you uncovered the truth behind all the strange happenings. Stargazing throws you for a loop in places and at times you think you’ve got the plot predicted and everything figured out only for the reader to be completely wrong in their assumptions and for the plot to once again pick up the pace.
If I have one criticism, I did feel myself struggling with the character Frankie. Especially her relationship with Daniel. She is a very dependant character; abused in a former relationship that she is trying her best to escape and stay hidden from. She comes across weak-willed and socially shy. I found her difficult to connect with and couldn’t see what Daniel found so attractive in her that he would leave such a long marriage to be with her. It’s odd because the crux of the character stories are so multi-layered and well woven that I found this part of the story so forced. Daniel is much older than Frankie and their relationship suffers so much strain from the off-set it’s surprising that he doesn’t go running back to Nesta with his tail between his legs! But we are shown the whole picture of the Stargazing through these characters eyes and without Frankie and her vastly different outlook on life the novel wouldn’t be half as successful as it is.
The core of the story is so good though that I found it hard to believe that a man would go to such unbelievable lengths to be the ‘villain’ of the story. Everything about the main ‘bad guy’ would dip a bit too far into spoiler territory that I don’t want to dwell on him too much because I really do urge readers to pick up this book and give it a try. It’s not a difficult read by any stretch of the imagination but it does involve scenes of abuse and violence that might be a bit difficult for more sensitive readers to cope with, especially as the story reaches it’s climax.
I would happily pick up another book by Kate Glanville as this one was such an entertaining and worthwhile read.