“I knew now, what the rock and roll lifestyle entailed. As alluring as it was, it carried a darkness that could pull you under.”—Jane Green, Sister Stardust.
Inspired by a true story, author Jane Green reimagines the glamorous and tragic life of Dutch fashion icon and socialite Talitha Getty through the eyes of Claire, a young woman in search of adventure who is drawn into Talitha’s orbit.
It’s the swinging ‘60s when 19-year-old Claire gets kicked out of the house by her stepmother and moves to London to get a job. Her music manager boyfriend introduces her to his circle of friends, members of the Wide-Eyed Boys rock band. Before long, she’s whisked away to a pleasure palace in Marrakesh, Morocco, where she meets John Paul Getty Jr. and his wife, Talitha. Claire, newly christened Cece by her new friends, becomes completely engrossed in the indulgent sex, drugs, & rock ‘n’ roll scene.
The push and pull of who Claire is and who she wants to be as Cece is a study in human nature. She so desperately wants to be somebody, and to have friends who love her, that she makes terrible choices and loses her innocence.
I was eager to read this book because it has thematic similarities to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel, Daisy Jones and the Six. The historical details are fascinating, and many real people are featured on its pages, including Mick Jagger and John Lennon. Jane Green is a talented storyteller, and the book is well written, but it is sordid. Most of the characters are morally bankrupt and looking for love in all the wrong places: there are orgies, a massive amount of drug and alcohol abuse, and debauched behavior.
One aspect of Sister Stardust really bothers me. The publisher pitches it as a “reimagining” of Talitha Getty’s life, which implies the author fabricated episodes about a real person. The same thing applies to her characterization of John Paul Getty Jr. That seems unethical. 3 stars.
** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a complimentary copy of this novel. The opinions expressed here are my own.