The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North
Review Date: 22 November 2015
Author: Anna North
Release Date: 11 February 2016
Publishers: W&N Publishers
ISBN –10: 1474601251
ISBN – 13: 978-1474601252
Available in Paperback, Kindle and audio
The Last Word Review
Anna North has written one of the books of 2016. It is haunting, gripping at every turn of a page
Not officially released in paperback format until February 2016 so I am grateful to Sam Eades at Orion Books for an advanced review copy ahead of publication.
The first thing that you get from The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is the cover. There is something chilling about this. A foretaste of what is to come.
Anna North has written a chilling novel about a peculiar woman and that is basically what she is here. This is written by six people who know her best. Each through their own perspective. When she was younger she spent most of her childhood alone or in the company of her brother. At college she took an interest in directing movies and this is where she became successful. But success has its pitfalls only Sophie knows all too well.
When as book is written through the perspectives of other people there is a chance that the reader can become distant from the actual story itself, but Anna North has written this so skilfully and exquisite that I struggle to find the words to tell you just how good this really is.
Each of their stories is told in reasonably short chapters which I found really helps keep the story moving along. When you look at the people who tell their story, you get a glimpse of the genius that is Sophie but one that is on the very edge of sanity and so close to an abys basically one very cold young woman.
While writing about The Life and Death of Sophie Stark I am reminded of a long dark tunnel with the occasional glimpse of light that shines through. Sophie had a troubled childhood with her father dying and a mother that in a sense went missing. There is sense that this story may at times drag the reader into a dark recess but this is the beauty of this story it is dark at times. A story that talks of stalking and retribution. Sophie’s obsession is Daniel so she starts filming him and so it begins, retribution. So it does not end there as Sophie embarks on making documentaries of those close to her. I found Sophie not only cold but totally selfish, single minded to the point that she did not care about feelings and not caring about anyone, they were there to be used in her pursuit of excellence. Don’t get me wrong here, Sophie has enormous talent by the bucket full, even those telling the stories will tell you this through their words.
Word of warning Sophie was not born Sophie. All that changed as you will find out for yourselves when you read The Life and Death of Sophie Stark and you will want to read novel by Anna North. There is so much in this book that I would recommend that reading groups seriously consider adding it to their list of books to read and discuss. Everyone will have an opinion about Sophie and the characters she uses. All human with the frailties of human life all struggling with every day’s trials and tribulations but it is the way they have been beautifully portrayed by the author makes this such a haunting and gripping read.
Do not miss this one.
Meet the Author
Anna North graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 2009, having received a Teaching-Writing Fellowship and a Michener/Copernicus Society Fellowship. Her fiction has appeared in Nautilus, Glimmer Train, the anthology Robot Uprisings, and the Atlantic Monthly, where it was nominated for a National Magazine Award. Her nonfiction has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Paris Review Daily, Jezebel, BuzzFeed, and Salon, and she is now a staff editor at the New York Times. Her first novel, America Pacifica, was published in 2011 by Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown, and her second novel, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, is forthcoming from Blue Rider Press in May 2015. She grew up in Los Angeles, and lives in Brooklyn.