One of my book club’s chosen reads for April was Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett, and this was a book I had been looking forward to reading for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I really enjoyed Laura Barnett’s debut novel, The Versions Of Us, and secondly, I was intrigued by the concept of this book, with its focus on music, and how music is important to us, and how it represents a particular time or place, and emotion.
In Greatest Hits we are meet a woman who has seen it all. Cass Wheeler is a singer and songwriter who has been fortunate enough to have experienced success during her career. She has also experienced motherhood, and lived through the ups and downs of family life and relationships, and the challenges life can bring. Throughout this novel we discover more about her and her life, the events that shaped her life, loves and musical career. Her story is told through sixteen chapters, all of which begin with a different song written by Cass, and each one represents a different time in her life, with the lyrics telling her story, and the reader being taken on a musical journey through one woman’s life. I really liked the format of this novel and the use of the song lyrics in telling chapters of the characters lives.
It didn’t take me long to get into this story, and I became immersed in Cass’ world. I followed her through her childhood years in which she experienced a fraught relationship with her mother, through to her first love, and to becoming a young woman with a dream. Everyone has a song, or songs, that they love, and that hold significance for them, so I really enjoyed discovering each of these songs, and then learning the story behind it. I was interested to read that Barnett actually collaborated with Mercury nominated artist Kathryn Williams to write Cass’ songs and there is an album available featuring her music. This is something I haven’t seen before but is a great way of combining music and literature, and giving the characters and their music a life beyond the page. And through this music this story deals with numerous themes surrounding human life, through passion and ambition, love and loss, of how we reach our dreams, and how these dreams may sometimes slip away.
I really enjoyed Greatest Hits, and found it to be a wonderful story which captures a life through the years, with all its highs and lows, and all with music at its heart.