Saturday 16 July 2011

Star Gazing by Linda Gillard

My bookish friends on have been raving about Linda Gillard's writing for some time now, in fact Linda has joined our online community and takes part in discussions about her writing, the publishing industry and her home in the Scottish Isles.  

I decided it was high time that I read one of her books and decided to start with Star Gazing which was published by Piatkus in 2008.  

I'd been fascinated by the online debates about the lead character Kier and who should play him in a film version.

Star Gazing is a fairly short novel, but I didn't find it a quick read by any means. The writing is so vivid and descriptive and the style of narration is especially clever.   
At first I found the third person narration, coupled with first person quite strange, but as the story progressed it struck me at just how clever it was.
Marianne Fraser, the lead character has been blind from birth - she's mid-forties, a widow and lives with her rather quirky, eccentric author sister in a flat in Edinburgh.   
Marianne is obstinate, stubborn, sometimes a bit cold but also passionate and deep.  She is independent, she is organised and what really stands out is that she is lonely.   Meeting Keir changes Marianne's life.  He's not patronising,  nor does he treat her differently because of her blindness.   He describes things to her in terms of music, he sends her audio postcards and he takes her to his beloved Skye.  
This is a wonderful love story.   It's not sentimental, nor is it sweet - it's real and has fabulous characters.  It will make you cry, it will make you laugh and it will most definitely make you wish that you will meet a Keir very soon.

Linda Gillard
Linda Gillard is certainly a very talented author, it's not often that a book that is labelled as 'romance' will appeal to me quite so much, but Linda hit every spot with this one.  

The crying shame is that Linda is now struggling to get a publishing deal as publishers don't think that her books fit in any particular genre.

All I can say to publishers is to take a look at Linda's fan base, the reviews online and her award nominations and re-think your strategy.

These are the sort of books that we want to read, not C List Celebrity Memoirs or indeed, dubious novels 'written' by the same C Listers.  

We are fed up of vampires and the such like - give us what we want!


  1. Well said, Anne.

    The publishers need to check out Linda's fanbase.

    I loved Star Gazing and have just read and reviewed Emotional Geology too.
    It is very different from Star Gazing but has Linda's wonderful storytelling trademark.


  2. I think as UK publishers get more onboard the social media they will realise these things. I think they're a little behind the industry in America but they are getting there. Has anyone thought about organising a petition?! Who knows, I big list of avid fans might get one of the smaller publishers thinking.

  3. It's very kind of you to be so supportive, but the only thing that changes publishers' minds is sales figures. I now have those (10,000 copies of the HOUSE OF SILENCE e-book sold in 4 months) but still no one is interested, so I think the problem with my genre-busting books has to be that publishers don't see how to market them to *retailers* (which is what they've always said - even the publishers of STAR GAZING). No one knows what kind of a cover my books should have! That means the supermarkets and WHS don't want them. (Neither stocked STAR GAZING.) Significant retailers now are just the supermarkets and WHS.

    I just came back from a writers' conference and all the delegates talked about was e-publishing. This is the future. Print publishers cannot compete with cheap e-books and they are losing authors who can make much more money doing it for themselves. In the US the talk is of how to *retain* authors. They've realised what authors want is effective marketing and time to concentrate on writing.

    Increasingly publishers are going to have to make money out of their mid-listers and debut authors because they have little to offer the big earners. With increased revenues from e-books, big authors can afford to employ their own publicist. (Ask any author if they are happy with their cover or the way their book was marketed and they'll mostly say no.)

    It's all good news for authors, not so good for publishers.

  4. It's brilliant that your new book has done so well as an e-book, Linda! I too loved Star Gazing (and Keir!), so look forward to reading House of Silence.

  5. Great review Anne, I am a great fan of LG and have read and reviewed all her books. She mentioned your review on FB so I popped over to have a look and have found a new to me blog, to follow.

  6. Welcome LindyLou - it's good to have you as a follower

  7. I've just recently read this too Anne, a few weeks ago on holiday, and I loved it. I also heard about it through all the chat about it on readitswapit. Lovely book. Looking forward to reading the authors other books now - I've got Emotional Geology on my tbr pile. Was lucky enough to swap for my copy with the author through the site too. Very kind. Thanks for the review. Lindsay