Stargazer by Laurie Petrou: ’There were so many ways a story could go’  

Cover image for Stargazer by Laurie PetrouIt was the theme of female friendship that drew me to Canadian author Laurie Petrou’s Stargazer. I was slightly dismayed to discover that it was published under a crime imprint but while there is a crime Petrou’s novel is a world away from the kind of police procedural I’m happy to watch on TV. Set in the ‘90s, Stargazer follows Aurelle and Diana who become inseparable after Diana’s brother drowns, choosing to study at the university attended by Aurelle’s famous mother.

She felt a throb of pleasure at her new, choreographed fate and the knowledge that this vision of her life was so infinitely better than what might have been.

Diana Martin spends her childhood at the mercy of Keith who never misses an opportunity to undermine his bright, talented sister for fear she might eclipse him. She retreats into an aloofness, shutting her hurt behind an impenetrable wall of stoic acceptance, friendless and alone, watching the never-ending house party hosted by the Taylors next door. Marianne Taylor is a fashion designer, much beloved by rave culture after a picture of her daughter Aurelle wearing one of her designs is picked up by the press. The Taylors live a life besieged by paparazzi, desperate to catch a glimpse of Marianne or Aurelle who hates to be the centre of attention. When Keith drowns, Marianne welcomes Diana into the Taylors’ orbit at a time when Aurelle is desperate for a confidante. They become inseparable, both enrolling at Rocky Barriers University across the lake from the Martins’ summer camp close by where Keith died. They set up house together: Diana, happy to dip into student life but remaining apart, while Aurelle relishes her apparent anonymity. As the year wears on, Diana proves herself to be a prodigious artistic talent at a terrible cost to Aurelle who throws herself into partying.

They were linked by something unspoken by something unspoken; they respected one another so deeply that they only wanted the other to be happy.  

Carefully avoiding any mention of a crime in that synopsis although, for me, it was far from the point of this taut novel. Petrou’s narrative straddles two timelines before and after Diana and Aurelle become friends, shifting perspectives between the two while fleshing out their characters. There’s lots of foreshadowing so we know something will go wrong but what interested me was the exploration of art, fame, sibling relationships and friendship which give the novel its heft while keeping up a page-turning pace. I thoroughly enjoyed it, much more so than I’d expected having spotted that imprint on the title page, and it has a great ending. I see so many tempting reviews of books I know I’m unlikely to get my hands on at Naomi’s Consumed by Ink and Marcie’s Buried in Print that it’s a delight to find a Canadian author, unknown to me, published here in the UK.

Oldcastle Books: Harpenden 9780857308221 256 pages Paperback (Read via NetGalley)

10 thoughts on “Stargazer by Laurie Petrou: ’There were so many ways a story could go’  ”

  1. Great review, I really enjoy books that really explore female friendship, thank you for sharing

  2. I like the sound of the exploration of friendship outside of the crime, I like books where a crime takes more of a backseat to the relationships.

  3. I’m not a big crime reader either, but this sounds like it’s well integrated into the story and the themes and characters are so well explored. It sounds very tempting! And as you say, so good to have a Canadian author easily available here in the UK. Naomi reviews so many enticing books that I wish were published here.

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