Book review: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 Permalink

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North is a compilation of recollections from friends, lovers and family about a charismatic but difficult filmmaker. The memories flow chronologically providing readers with some insight into her passionate and troubled life.  

The blurb (sort of)

“It’s hard for me to talk about love. I think movies are the way I do that,” says Sophie Stark, a visionary and unapologetic filmmaker. She uses stories from the lives of those around her—her obsession, her girlfriend, and her husband—to create movies that bring her critical recognition and acclaim. But as her career explodes, Sophie’s unwavering dedication to her art leads to the shattering betrayal of the people she loves most.

Told in a chorus of voices belonging to those who knew her best, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is an intimate portrait of an elusive woman whose monumental talent and relentless pursuit of truth reveal the cost of producing great art, both for the artist and for the people around her.

sophie stark

My thoughts

We meet and spend time with Sophie (born Emily Buckley) through the eyes of her brother, lovers and colleagues. All ponder how well they knew her: often vacillating between thinking they’ve been able to catch a glimpse into her soul; and finding themselves completely bewildered by her behaviour.

All we readers can really know about Sophie is via what she’s said and what she’s done. And they’re often miles apart.

The chapter written by George (a movie producer with whom she’s planning to collaborate on a film) is probably the one which I think best reflects her dichotomous character. Which is interesting as he’s probably the one who has the least to do with her (though not as hampered by his personal feelings as those who knew her better).

This was an interesting, but not riveting, read for me. I realise North intends for we readers (and Sophie’s friends) to remain conflicted about the book’s namesake but I did find it a little frustrating that I really didn’t get a sense of her character (or care more about her). I suspect North is implying (and probably not even very subtly) that Sophie…. as she called herself (almost on a whim), really had no sense of who she was. Which was—most likely—her problem.

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North was released in Australia via Hachette on 24 November 2015. 

I received a copy of this novel for review purposes.


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