We’ve all wondered what it would be like to be blind. In Star Gazing Linda Gillard takes us very creatively through the life of a woman who has been blind since birth.
Marianne is a very realistic character. She doesn’t let her blindness stop her from being in charge of her life. Her other senses are highly developed. She recognizes people by their smell or their voice or their steps as they walk near her. Marianne takes what she already knows to help her understand the rest of the world. Here’s an example:
This voice was more like a good dark chocolate, the kind that’s succulent, almost fruity, but with a hint of bitterness. He hit his Highland consonants with the same satisfying ‘click’ that good chocolate makes when you snap it into pieces.
Marianne is a widow in her mid-forties living in Edinburgh with her older sister who is a successful vampire novelist. Marianne’s life is comfortable and she keeps busy with a part-time job, but deep down she’s lonely.
One day, on her doorstep, she meets Keir. He is the most remarkable man. He’s very insightful and he seems to truly understand Marianne. After a short acquaintance, Keir invites Marianne to visit his cabin on the Isle Of Skye. Marianne is unable to refuse. He has promised to help her “see” the stars.
Keir has a wonderful way with words. He has the ability to explain how his world looks by comparing things to music or how they make him feel. Marianne has always wanted to know what twinkling stars are like. How do you explain what twinkling is?
Keir thinks for a moment, then says, ‘It’s a kind of pulse. A gentle throbbing of light. Not like a headache. A beautiful, magical throbbing . . . I had a girlfriend once who tried to explain the mysteries of female sexual arousal to me and she said, “You know he’s the one for you if the sight of him makes your genitals twinkle.”
On the Isle Of Skye the night sky is very clear to Keir. He takes Marianne outdoors and helps her understand what the stars look like:
‘Most stars look cold. Icy. They’d sound like . . . flutes. No, piccolos. Shrill. Arcturus looks warmer. A cello maybe . . . It looks like the stove feels when it gives off just a bit of heat. Arcturus glows, but it doesn’t burn or blaze like the sun. It’s like the feelings youi might have for an old friend . . . or an ex-lover, one who still means something to you. Steady. Passionless. On second thought, make that a viola . . . How am I doing?’
He’s good, isn’t he? The reader can’t help but fall in love with this guy. Neither can Marianne, even though she doesn’t want to. She worries he will die like her husband and she doesn’t want to be hurt again.
This is an unusual, but very beautiful love story. I hesitate to include that last sentence because I don’t want you to think this is your average romance novel. I’ve read plenty of those, and this is not that. This is a literary novel that happens to include a love story. I include the quotes because I want you to see how lovely and thoughtful the writing is.
About the author: Like all good writers, Linda has pursued other interests prior to writing her novels. She was an actress (she trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School), a freelance journalist, a humor columnist, and a primary school teacher. All of this in addition to raising a family.
Star Gazing is Linda’s third novel. Her first two are Emotional Geology (2005) and A Lifetime Burning (2006). She’s working hard on her fourth and fifth novels. Linda and her husband lived for a number of years on the Isle of Skye. Recently they moved to another island – Arran, off the Ayshire coast, only a couple of hours from Glasgow.
Linda has a wonderfully engaging personality as you can see on her Facebook page and other sites around the internet. Just yesterday she participated in an interview with Jill on Rhapsody In Books. Read both the interview and the discussion in the comments section. (Great fun.) Also, check Linda’s website here.
I enjoyed this story so much that I want all of you to read it. I also believe this author should be more widely read. In order to do my part to spread the word, I purchased three copies of the book for a giveaway. I’m offering all three copies to readers of my blog who will agree to read and review the book on their blog.
If you are interested, please leave a comment letting me know of your interest. I’ll keep the comments open until June 15th at noon (PDT). I’ll use random.org to help me pick three winners.