Review: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

9781474603072 (1)This is an incredible read. Mesmerizing, hypnotic, addictive it captures you from its opening lines and doesn’t let go long after you have put the book down.

The book tells the story of Sophie Stark, a reclusive film director. Her life is told from the point of view of those closest to her, recounting the key moments in her life and infused with their experience of her and their feelings for her. Sophie’s life is told in individual vignettes, almost reminiscent of The Virgin Suicides.  Adding to this the films of Sophie Stark have a distinct Sofia Coppola quality to them; dreamlike, lonely, deeply emotional. Sophie Stark has a different way of looking at the world. One that has always put her on the outside, especially growing up. She has always struggled to express herself until she discovers film in college and makes a short documentary about a fellow student (who she is obsessed with) which launches her career.

Sophie’s films break boundaries and conventions and win plaudits and admirers of her work. Sophie not only has an eye for film but also a way to bring out the best in the actors and often non-actors she works with. Sophie herself, as well as her films, have a way of getting people to find things in themselves. But she does this at a cost to her relationships and the relationships around her which only serves to keep her on the outside.

Just like the novel’s narrators you are drawn into the enthralling world of Sophie Stark; her influence, her attention, her loneliness and the power she has to wield these to get what she wants. At times inspiring, at other times tragic this is a truly exceptional piece of fiction.

Buy the book here…

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Jon Page

Jon Page is a bookseller and author of the Bite the Book Blog.