The Life of Death and Sophie Stark–Anna North


The premise is interesting.  The life and death of the main character told through her stories with multiple narrators.  And a film critic.

Sophie is a waif from Iowa who does not know how to connect with people, but she sees them more clearly than others.  The novel begins with the story of Allison, whose story Sophie turns into a film and nearly destroys Allison in the process.  Then her brother, Robbie, who introduced her to film-making and who she leaves behind in Iowa to find fame in New York.  Then Jacob, the musician who becomes her husband and whose pain she makes into her greatest film.  Then Daniel, her first film who comes back to her after he is broken.  Then George, whose film she whisked from under his nose.  Back to Allison.  Then Robbie.  And Sophie’s masterpiece, to bring together those she loved to tell the story of her life and death.

It’s a bit self-absorbed, the tragic life and death of an artist who just can’t fit in, who can’t handle real life, who sacrifices herself for a beautiful death.  This is Anna North’s second novel.  From her author photo, she is very young herself, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a staff editor for the New York Times.

The characters are interesting.  The plot is interesting.  The idea is different from the usual abused woman disappears and the novel spends 200+ pages revealing where she went.  Instead, the title tells us she dies and the novel spends 200+ pages telling us how and why she died.  Do young women survive the novels whose titles they inhabit in the 2010’s?

Finished 1/23/17


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