This poll was organised by the Romantic Novelists Association in conjunction with the magazine Woman’s Weekly.
Linda Gillard one of my favourite authors has just been announced as the winner of this award for her most recent novel ‘Star Gazing’
Linda Gillard lives on the Isle of Arran and is pictured here with her trophy. It was apparently pure coincidence that the trophy was in the shape of a star, but rather appropriate.
It was a well deserved award as you will know if you have read this novel, if you have not done so I urge you to do so. Maybe my review or one of the many other excellent reviews that have been written will tempt you to do so.
I read Star Gazing before this blog was in existence although I did reproduce it here in the early days. In honour of this award I am publishing that review here again today.
09 September 2008
Star Gazing by Linda Gillard
I have for as long as I can remember had a habit of saving new things as the excitement is often in the anticipation. It is no surprise to me then that I have been saving ‘Star Gazing’. This is Linda Gillard’s third novel and I enjoyed the previous two so much that this new one held a high element of expectation for me. Hence the saving!
I knew from reading an article by the author that this book was somewhat of an experiment for her in that her heroine was blind and that it was written in the first person. Well I was not disappointed Linda has done so with great success and I loved this latest addition to her I think varied repertoire. No sticking to a formulaic outline for this author.
I loved ‘Star Gazing’ and was glad I had saved it for a time when I knew I could relax and enjoy it without interruptions. I did however find it a rather short and quick read. I think for that reason alone I still prefer A Lifetime Burning as it was an altogether much more substantial novel.
Star Gazing is an unconventional romance set in Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye with descriptions that will have you enthralled and characters that you will become emotionally involved with.
All the protagonists are extremely well portrayed, Marianne, Louisa, Keir and Garth. Set in the period of time from the winter of 2006 to the summer of 2007 the story draws you in to the trials and tribulations of the lives of these four.
The fascinating aspect of the story for me was the fact that the main protagonist Marianne was congenitally blind and how well thanks to Linda Gillard’s descriptions I was able to understand her experience of life. There is one particular scene where Marianne gets lost which had me near to tears with frustration for her. Marianne is portrayed as a strong independent woman but this just makes you realise the difficulties she faces to be so. There was also a point in the story where her decisions were making me so angry.
Keir the man with the chocolate voice (love this analogy)that Marianne meets by chance shares her passion for music and has a wonderful ability of describing what he is seeing to her. I felt at times he was almost too good to be true and he was so patient with Marianne. There was at least one occasion I felt I wanted to shout at him not about patience with her physical abilities but when she was making decisions! His way of describing sights via musical comparisons was intriguing and something I will certainly think about in future.
Lousia her sister and Garth who works for Louisa are the minor characters but they make an important contribution to the story and both made me laugh, relieving some of the sadder elements.
To sum up a modern romance with a unique angle and enough twists and turns and heartache to make it a captivating highly recommended read.
As you will realise if you have read all this review this is a story that will stir your emotions!
My words in summing up above will make it clear that I am in complete agreement with the results of this poll.
The other two titles short listed for the award along with Star Gazing were ‘A Woman of Substance’ by Barbara Taylor Bradford and ‘Every Woman For Herself’ by Trisha Ashley. The former I read many years ago, in fact in 1985 and dare I admit I have not even heard of Trisha Ashley my only saving grace being that maybe she gained popularity after I left the UK.
For more information and comments from the shortlisted authors here is a link to the press release. Press Release Winners and Comments
I am including here the long list which ‘Stargazing’ was competing against, an interesting and varied selection! I have read the vast majority, although some were such a long time ago that I would definitely be unable to comment about them or their inclusion on this list. There are six authors on the list whose work I have never read and two I am ashamed as a librarian to admit I had never even heard of previously. There are a few other titles on the list that I thoroughly enjoyed that I was maybe surprised did not make it on to the short list but I do think the right novel won.
The long list :-
A HORSEMAN RIDING – R. F Delderfield
A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE – B. Taylor Bradford
AN ABSOLUTE SCANDAL - Penny Vincenzi
BRIDGET JONES' DIARY – Helen Fielding
CHECKMATE - Dorothy Dunnett
CHOCOLAT – Joanne Harris
CONSIDER THE LILY - Elizabeth Buchan
EVERY WOMAN FOR HERSELF - Tricia Ashley
LIGHT A PENNY CANDLE – Maeve Binchy
MISS M & ME - Jemme Forte
PENMARRIC - Susan Howatch
POSSESSION – A.S.Byatt
RIDERS – Jilly Cooper
SCARLET RIBBONS - Emma Blair
SOMEDAY, SOMEWHERE - Eileeen Ramsay
STAR GAZING - Linda Gillard
TELL IT TO THE SKIES - Erica James
FAR PAVILIONS – M.M. Kaye
FRENCH LIEUT.'S WOMAN – John Fowles
THE ISLAND – Victoria Hislop
LABYRINTH – Kate Mosse
THE NEARNESS OF YOU - Mike Hutton
THE NONESUCH - Georgette Heyer
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL - Philippa Gregory THE RECTOR'S WIFE - J Trollope
THE SHELL SEEKERS - Rosamunde Pilcher
THE TAMARIND SEED - Evelyn Anthony
TILLY TROTTER - Catherine Cookson
TOUCH NOT THE CAT - Mary Stewart
I read Linda Gillard’s previous two novels before I started writing LindyLouMac’s Book Reviews but you may be interested in reading my Journal entries at Bookcrossing- LindyLouMac- Home Page
Emotional Geology – Journal Entries
A Lifetime Burning – Journal Entries
Official Website for Linda Gillard Please visit her website as lots of interesting information, also if you are a Facebook Fan she has a page there.
I am now hoping that Linda Gillard will get the recognition she deserves and hopefully we will soon see more of her work being published.