Thank you to Jennifer Harlow (a.k.a band roadie) at Harper Collins for the invitation to join the blog tour for this stunning debut novel, this has been one of my favourite books to escape into this year. Also thank you for a beautiful finished copy of the book.
Behind every greatest hit, is an even greater love story.
THE SUMMER OF 1969
From the moment Jane Quinn steps barefoot onto the main stage at Island Folk festival, her golden hair glinting, her voice soaring into the summer dusk, a star is born – and so is a passionate love story.
Jane’s band hits the road with none other than Jesse Reid, the musician whose bright blue eyes are setting hearts alight everywhere. And as the summer streaks by in a haze of crowds, wild nights and magenta sunsets, Jane is pulled into the orbit of Jesse’s star.
But Jesse’s rise could mean Jane’s fall. And when she discovers a dark secret beneath his music, she picks up her guitar and writes her heartache into the album that could make or break her: Songs in Ursa Major.
Set against the heady haze of the 70s and alive with music, sex and sun-soaked hedonism, SONGS IN URSA MAJOR is an unforgettable debut and the soundtrack to a love story like no other.
This book has shot straight into my top ten favourite books of the year (I’ve read 120 so far). I enjoyed travelling to a time I know very little about, to meet a colourful cast of characters.
Jane and her band receive a big break at their local festival when Jesse Reid, local famous musician is unable to perform. This leads to their big break, a recording contract and a tour supporting Jesse and his band.
However there are a number of obstacles in the way of fame and happiness, including sexist record executives, secrets and addictions. I loved how Emma brought the story to life with her evocative descriptions, from the festival to the local bar to the tour bus.
Jane starts writing more songs, as she becomes friendly with Jesse and then starts a relationship with him in secret. But will the men in suits allow her to record the music she wants to share with her fans? Will the secrets she discovers be too great for her to ignore?
This book reminds us how sexist the music industry was and how the creativity of the artists was stifled, although admittedly sometimes that was self inflicted by the artists becoming hooked on illegal substances.
The book is full of strong women from Jane’s family, who live on the poorer side of the island. They may not have the money that the wealthy island visitors have but they do have a strong family bond, something Jesse is missing from his life.
I’ve seen review comparing this book to Daisy Jones and the Six, a book I haven’t read yet. As a non spoiler review, all I can say is that this book is beautifully written, with a powerful story and a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
I read this from cover to cover in less than 24 hours and did contemplate staying awake into the early hours to finish it. One of my five star reads this year and I will be encouraging everyone to buy a copy to read and enjoy this summer. I’m also looking forward to reading more by Emma Brodie in the future.
EMMA BRODIE has worked in book publishing for a decade, most recently as an executive editor at Little, Brown’s Voracious imprint. She graduated from the Johns Hopkins University’s Writing Seminars program, and is a longtime contributor to HuffPost and a faculty member at Catapult. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their dog, Freddie Mercury.