*I received a free copy of The Life and Death of Sophie Stark from Blue Rider Press via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North
Published by Blue Rider Press on 19 May 2015
Gripping and provocative, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark tells a story of fame, love, and legacy through the propulsive rise of an iconoclastic artist.
“It’s hard for me to talk about love. I think movies are the way I do that,” says Sophie Stark, a visionary and unapologetic filmmaker. She uses stories from the lives of those around her—her obsession, her girlfriend, and her husband—to create movies that bring her critical recognition and acclaim. But as her career explodes, Sophie’s unwavering dedication to her art leads to the shattering betrayal of the people she loves most.
Told in a chorus of voices belonging to those who knew her best, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is an intimate portrait of an elusive woman whose monumental talent and relentless pursuit of truth reveal the cost of producing great art, both for the artist and for the people around her.
Quite strange and different story, narrated from various characters’ point of view – but still all circling around Sophie Stark and her strangeness as a person and film maker.
My The Life and Death of Sophie Stark review:
Because the narration of Sophie Stark’s life and death was done from characters who had been close to her, and thus sharing their views of her, it made it very hard for me to connect with any of them. Sophie was definitely the main focus fo the various parts of the story, but since none of the characters really understood her – just as she never really understood other human beings – it always felt like something was missing.
Each character had a poignant memory of Sophie, her brother had always thought she was very strange, but he had a very protective feeling when it came to her. Sophie never really seemed to actually need protection, though, inside her own little bubble, she preferred watching life unfold through a camera lens, first by taking photographs, and later by filming people she found intriguing. With no notions of personal space, and very little empathy, Sophie decided on a subject and did whatever she felt was necessary in order to get her film done.
The overall feel of The Life and Death of Sophie Stark was pretty nostalgic, as the characters were looking back to memories they had shared with Sophie. They did not exactly paint her in a very flattering light, though, so I guess you could say this might be a realistic fiction. However, because I only got bits and pieces of Sophie’s life through the other characters’ eyes, it was difficult to see Sophie as the main character. They all had very distinct feelings when it came to Sophie, though, from love to disgust, even if they all loved her in their own way.
The writing is quite good, as the story is first person point of view, past tense. However, the different characters’ voices weren’t as distinct as they could have been, and this made the story a little bit confusing – re-telling things Sophie had said and done, and the character stating this didn’t always differ enough, which is really too bad, because Sophie Stark definitely had a lot of potential.
Some of my favorite The Life and Death of Sophie Stark quotes:
I felt like I’d come to a place for people who didn’t know how to be people, and if I was there I must not really know how to be a person either.
[…]like a field mouse, and animal that has to survive in the wild. I wanted to know what she looked like under her boys’ clothes – I imagined something neither boy nor girl, something I’d never seen before.
I didn’t. I didn’t like Peter, and I didn’t like that Sophie did. I didn’t like that she liked the look of him, all skinny and hard everywhere that I was soft.
At the same time, I wanted to hold Sophie’s interest. I felt like I was performing for her – I didn’t know whether it was a good performance or a bad one, but I didn’t want to stop.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: