When love and art collide in Sophie Stark’s life, art always wins.
Sophie, a filmmaker, is elusive in the way we're told only true geniuses can be. From a precocious age, she flits in and out of people’s lives, as her career moves from that of a cult favorite to the highest levels of fame. Though she’s the book’s focal point, her voice is never part of the story; instead, the reader only comes to know her from the perspectives of those who love and watch her, one person and one chapter at a time. Tragedy haunts each section as Sophie keeps choosing to put her art ahead of everybody she loves, whether it’s her college girlfriend, her ex-husband, or the people she crashes with in between relationships. With every betrayal, Sophie’s art improves, and her mental health crumbles further. The novel builds slowly, and, though its denouement is promised by the book’s title, it unfolds with a surprising depth of feeling. Articles by journalist Benjamin Martin appear between most of the chapters; his growth lends a quiet parallel to the growth of Sophie's career, which fleshes out the book nicely. North’s writing is assured and engrossing, though the voices of those who love Sophie are fairly similar, creating the effect of a Greek chorus rather than separate narrators. If we're to accept the cliché that human kindness is the price of great art, it's a welcome change to see a woman play the role of tortured artist and to hear instead from those who are left behind in her pursuit.
An engaging exploration of what it takes to make art and, more importantly, what it takes to love those who make it.