I was delighted to win a copy of this book over on Brighton Blogger's Book after Book blog.
Starlings is a series of interconnected stories set in the southern English city of Brighton. The characters are all vividly drawn, believable, flawed people with problems and eccentricities. Each chapter can be read as a self contained story in its own right, but most of the characters appear in more than one story and the more often we meet them, often in different time frames and circumstances, the more their individual stories make sense. The various stories all come together at the end, giving a nice resolution to the whole.
There are many things I loved about this book, but for the purposes of this review, the feature I'll concentrate on is the author's eye for nature. The starlings of the title are a major feature of Brighton, roosting as they do in huge numbers on the city's piers (though in declining numbers). They don't play a huge part in the narrative of the novel, but are sensed in the background and are described beautifully when they are brought to the foreground and it's lovely to read of characters who can be moved by watching wildlife:
Upstairs in her flat, May watches the starlings flit around the Pier...... Nightly she watches their dance from her window, she thinks is the most beautiful thing she's ever seen and her heart is warmed by their beauty.
Also notable for the wildlife enthusiast are the incredibly well observed scenes with the man encouraging his dog to enjoy the sea and the urban fox's encounter with a packet of frozen peas, both of which struck me as being inspired by real events and both being of that wonderful quirky 'couldn't make it up' kind of humour that I love.
So, a brilliant book and do read it if you get the chance, though if you've got toothache or a phobia of dentists, you may wish to skip the chapter called Dentistry. It's as brilliant as the rest of the book, but a bit painful...
Starlings by Erinna Mettler, published by Revenge Ink
As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites where you can find out more.
Reviewed for Brighton Blogger's 2012 Reading Challenge