How often to read a book and listen to the music mentioned in the pages in your head? Only me? Well if I’m not alone and you do too GREATEST HITS by Laura Barnett is for you. For author has collaborated with musician Kathryn Williams who has put music to the words. You can listen to the album while reading the book.
Cass Wheeler is a great singer song writer, in my mind she’s a cross between Mary Hopkin and Stevie Nicks. We meet her sat in her Kent recording studio preparing for a party to celebrate the launch of her greatest hits album. She is in a contemplative mood, reflecting back over the old songs and some new ones. We join her in her remembrance of things past. Flitting between the deep past and the present party preparation.
Each chapter begins with song lyrics, complete with author and recording details, that song triggers a slew of memories. We follow Cass from being tiny scrap of a Vicar’s daughter in South London, to a bit of wild child in Sussex and onwards through love, stardom and motherhood. Some elements of the story are told over and over again, just like you do when you are puzzling over the depths of your past. Why did you do that? Would it be different if you hadn’t?
Whilst I’m not a big fan of the audio book (although I do love a good serialisation on Radio 4) I can imagine that this would make an excellent one with the songs weaving in and out. I hasten to add that at the moment there is no audio book and that I have no idea if this how it will be done, but why wouldn’t you?
With or without music GREATEST HITS is a compelling tale. Laura Barnett captures well the quest for success, love and happiness and all the regrets about things that go wrong. She is especially strong on places, I want to live in Atterley the Arts and Crafts house of her aunt and uncle. Much like a cat, once I’m happy in a place I can stay and enjoy the story.
Second books can be tricky and I’m always fretful that an author I loved first time round might not be so good second time around. I loved Versions of Us, Laura Barnett’s first book and have been equally spellbound by her second. Most of all I have enjoyed reaching into the deep recesses of the Sonos and listening to Mary Hopkin, Fleetwood Mac and, of course, Kathryn Williams, whilst the story spun around me.
GREATEST HITS by Laura Barnett
Published by Orion
Hardback £12.99, Kindle £6.99
SONGS FROM THE NOVEL GREATEST HITS by Kathryn Williams
CD £13.99, Vinyl £24.99