Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech Orenda Books April 18th 2019
Tonight is the night for secrets…
Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago –
and her killer hasn’t been caught.
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her
yours, and she’ll share some of hers.
Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the
mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you
about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …
What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the
station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…
With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive
and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears,
providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be
Louise Beech has done it again, her talent knows no bounds as Call Me Star Girl showcased an author at the top of her game.
What made the novel so special was undoubtedly her characters, none more so than Stella. Oh how she got underneath my skin, a young woman abandoned by her mother at the age of 12, yet somehow there was understanding and forgiveness. Stella didn’t seek revenge, accepted it for the way that it was, but blamed herself for not being the excitement her mother craved, for being in simple terms, boring. It was interesting to see how Beech portrayed the adult Stella, how her past seeped into her relationships, especially with her boyfriend, Tom. It was almost as if she had to take things that one step further in what she was prepared to do to make sure Tom never left her, to make sure she wasn’t boring. In some ways it was sad and as the story unfolded the narrative ached with poignancy, none more so when Stella seemed to drown in her emotions, and the murder of Victoria Valbon. You couldn’t breath as Stella’s actions, plunged her deeper and deeper into despair and you wanted to scream at her to stop, but knew you couldn’t. Beech’s descriptions were just wonderful, almost cinematic as you watched in full colour as this brave, vulnerable young woman fell apart in front of you.
I loved Beech’s structure as she alternated between past and present between two sides of a story that of Stella and Elizabeth.
Did I feel sorry for Elizabeth, did I have any sympathy? In some ways yes, what young woman trapped at home with a young baby wouldn’t crave excitement, nights out with friends and boyfriends. It was fascinating to see how Beech portrayed their renewed relationships, the tension, and trepidation and the questions that somehow were left unsaid until it was too late. It wasn’t your usual cliched reunion, it had a uniqueness about it, the usual questions never asked until events forced secrets out into the open.
That is what made Call Me Star Girl so good, its unpredictability and reluctance to adopt the usual Mum abandons child, then reunion scenario. The added mystery surrounding Victoria Valbon’s murder was perfectly interwoven and pushed the boundaries of the novel’s uniqueness that little bit further. How was her murder connected to Stella, to Elizabeth, to Tom? It was all handled with complete ease, with all the great skills of a psychological thriller writer complete with twists and turns but with a greater empathise on human emotion.
Beech showed us how emotions, feelings and perceptions can be pushed to the extreme how it can force us to do things that we would never normally do. Our mind wanders in different directions, the edges can become blurred, until we think we find the clarity we need and act on them even if in the end those actions may be wrong.
Call Me Star Girl was a deeply moving, just wonderfully, brilliantly written novel. In my eyes Louise Beech can do no wrong. Bravo!
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Call Me Star Girl to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most
Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.