Cover Image: Bright Stars

Bright Stars

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Cameron Spark's life has not turned out as he had once hoped. He is the youngest of four brothers, whose dear Mum died when he was just an adolescent. Once he was the bright one, the studious, nerdy, asthmatic, clumsy one who was the only one in his family to attend university. Now, at age forty-six, he has gone home to live with his father in the three-story granite terrace house he grew up in. The reasons for this are twofold. He is (temporarily?) separated from his wife Amanda, and, he has been suspended from the job he has held for the last quarter decade.  Suspended, and under investigation due to an 'incident'.

For the last twenty-five years, Cameron has worked for Skeletours Inc., a tour company working historic 'Old Town' Edinburgh. Bringing history alive, he leads 'ghost tours', with myriad tourists following his every word and footstep.

Cameron is now seeing a therapist to work through his problems. To discover the 'why' behind the incident, and to get his life back on track. The therapist, Jeremy, coaxes Cameron to keep a journal detailing all the events in his life that led up to what happened. It is through this journal that the reader meets teenage Cameron. He has just left his home in Scotland to go to university in Lancaster, England. There is meets three friends that will shape the course of his life. 

Bex (Rebecca Stone), is a vibrant, strong, opinionated girl who is fierce in her beliefs and her loyalties. He loves her and is intimidated by her in equal measure.  Tommo (Ptolemy Dulac), a lanky, skanky rock musician who is alienated from his rich parents. Tommo is the popular guy, the guy who Cameron is least likely to befriend. And finally, Christie, a Canadian student who has the beauty and brains to take her far...

"And that would become the pattern of our relationship: Tommo taking me for granted, me being both flattered and annoyed." "I felt privileged, I suppose, to be allowed into the Inner Circle of Coolness, nerd-boy that I was."

The narrative skips from present day back to 1986 as Cameron relates the events leading up to his present circumstances.

Back in Edinburgh, and the present day, Cameron attempts to deal with his situation aided by his loyal Dad and his father's mouthy dachshund dog, Myrtle.

"Myrtle sits on my foot. She's the weight of a small dinosaur rather than a ridiculous stumpy-legged, wee-and-poo machine."

"Dad has been trying to get me to eat porridge all my life. I hate porridge. It makes me gag. This can be emasculating for a Scot."

As Cameron awaits the verdict of the investigation his thoughts travel back in time to that fateful year, 1986.

"One act of recklessness, one ill-formed decision, can echo down the years."


I always marvel when an author chooses to write a story with a protagonist of the opposite sex. It must be quite a challenge. Sophie Duffy has met this challenge with aplomb.

The novel is laced with humour, which I enjoyed tremendously. The characters were fully developed and believable. The settings were described with skill and obvious first-hand knowledge.

I'll confess, the thing about this novel that I didn't care for were the use of footnotes. To me they seemed surplus to requirements. Surely someone writing a journal would not use them? Also, they were not at the end of the page, but at the end of the chapter. This meant that you had often forgotten what the footnotes referred to by the time you got to them...

This is a novel about friendship, about a life-altering event, but mostly it is about guilt. Corrosive, devastating guilt. It is literary fiction that strives to make a point and succeeds. A novel that takes the often dour aspects of life and finds the humour hidden within. A novel with an ending that ties up the novel in a satisfactory way.

I very much enjoyed this book and will gladly read other work by this talented author.

4.5 stars rounded up for NetGalley

I received a complimentary digital copy of "Bright Stars" from Legend Press via NetGalley in consideration of a review which I was only too happy to provide.
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I was unable to download this novel for review. If it should become available again I would be happy to review it at that time.
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With marital troubles and losing his job Cameron moves back in with his father. 

He receives a letter from Canada, Christie an old friend who along with a gang of four all parted on bad terms due to a tragedy.

This is an emotional tale, love and friendship bring this fantastic read to life. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was sad when I finished it 

The author is an amazing storyteller and the characters are a joy to know. They are all perfectly 'real' and as the story weaved by the narration of Camerons journal I just felt more and more for all involved 

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I put off reading this book for so long because I didn't think it was my cup of tea but it turned out that it was, this is a novel a group of unlikely friends who meet at university, we have Cameron the Scot who is a bit of a nerd and has never really belonged anywhere even in his own family, Bex the hippy who is a feminist and an activist, Tommo the rich spoilt kid with no regard for anyone or anything other than himself and Christine the Canadian exchange student, we follow Cameron our narrator through two timelines, the present day where he has just lost his job and his marriage is falling apart and then in 1986 where we meet the four friends at uni and witness a tragic event that will change the course of all of their lives forever.

I wasn't keen on the writing style of this book and there were a lot of footnotes which I'm not a fan of especially reading on Kindle, there was also a lot of repetition especially towards the end and I felt myself screaming "YES I GOT THE HINT THE FIRST TIME!" apart from this it was a good read, it really delves into friendship and what life can throw at you, I also liked the modern day parts in this book especially the Scottish referendum being spoke about and the thought and feelings of Cameron towards it was done well, especially from an English author.

Over all a good read but not one I was blown away by.
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Cameron is 46 years old and has recently moved back in with his father while he and his wife are separated. He is facing a disciplinary hearing regarding an event that occurred while he was working as a ghost tour guide. He receives an invitation in the mail from a college friend to attend the launch of an Icewine. He hasn't seen his college friends in 25 years, and with good reason. He decides to attend the wine celebration and have a reunion a long time coming.

I did not like this book at all. None of the characters were particularly likable, especially Cameron. 25 years later and he is still pining over a girl in college who showed absolutely zero interest in him. He's quiet and awkward and uncomfortable. I found the major premise of what happened in college to be unbelievable. Cameron really thinks he only had 2 drinks? The orange juice tasted "bitter" and he didn't know why, even though Tommo got it for him at the bar and was smirking when he handed it to him? (insert eye roll here). I don't think Cameron would have done what he did for Tommo either, especially considering there were witnesses. There's also no way there wouldn't have been a lawsuit brought against Cameron. Christine says in the book that it's because she wouldn't let her father go through with it. Um. No. Not happening. I'm confused at all the 4 and 5 stars this book got. I was just happy to be done with it. I didn't care what happened at the reunion and the "tragedy" that happened in college was anti-climatic.
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