Star Gazing by Linda Gillard

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Star Gazing by Linda Gillard is one of the most impressive books I have ever read. I have wondered many times how I would cope if I were blind. This book goes some way to describing what it must be like – a world where the other senses are  heightened, where sound is more distinct  and touch and smell are of great importance.

Author

Linda Gillard now lives in the Highlands, on the Black Isle. She has also lived on the Isle of Arran and spent six years on the Isle of Skye. 

She graduated from Bristol University and trained as an actress at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. For eight years she pursued an acting career, the highlight of which was appearing on stage at the National Theatre with Geraldine McEwan, TV's Miss Marple. The lowlight was playing a fairy for four rainy months in an open-air production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Regent’s Park.

Whilst under-employed at the National Theatre, Linda accidentally became a freelance journalist and wrote light-hearted articles for magazines, many based on her semi-self-sufficient “Good Life” in rural Cambridgeshire. For twelve years she had a humorous column in IDEAL HOME about family life. (Her children, now adult, are still trying to live it down.)

Linda ran her two careers concurrently for a while, then decided to give up acting to focus on journalism and raising a family. At the age of 40 she re-trained as a primary teacher and taught in Norfolk specialising in English and Art. She decided to re-think her career yet again after she was assaulted by a disturbed pupil.

The re-think entailed giving up teaching and downshifting to Skye, realising a long-held dream to move to the Highlands and write full-time. For six years Linda lived on a hillside overlooking the Cuillins, a mountain range featured in her first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY. 
 Linda’s second novel A LIFETIME BURNING was published in 2006 by Transita. Her third novel, STAR GAZING, set on the Isle of Skye and in Edinburgh, was published by Piatkus in 2008. STAR GAZING was voted "Favourite Romantic Novel 1960-2010" by readers of Woman's Weekly magazine. The award (a crystal star) was presented to Linda at a champagne breakfast hosted by novelist Katie Fforde, chair of the Romantic Novelists' Association. 

STAR GAZING was also shortlisted in 2009 for the Romantic Novel of the Year and for the UK's first environmental book award, the Robin Jenkins Literary Award, which promotes writing inspired by Scotland's landscape. 
Linda's fourth novel, HOUSE OF SILENCE was published as an e-book in 2011 and quickly became a Kindle bestseller. A fifth novel, UNTYING THE KNOT was also published on Kindle in 2011. 

Linda has recently finished a sixth novel: a paranormal love story, IF THE SUN AND MOON SHOULD DOUBT.

Plot development

The novel begins when its heroine, the blind, forty-five year old Marianne Fraser, runs into a cyclist near the front door of the Edinburgh home she shares with her sister, Louisa. The bottle of burgundy Marianne is carrying shatters and the door keys slip from her hands. A stranger offers his help and as he assists her, their mutual love of opera comes up.

Later, while at the opera, during the intermission, they meet again. Louisa, Marianne’s sister, is away buying drinks when the man introduces himself as Keir Harvey. Keir’s last name is a shock for Marianne since it was her late husband’s first name.

Marianne’s late husband worked in the oil industry and was killed in an accident. Marianne was devastated not only by Harvey’s death, but also by the miscarriage she suffered shortly afterward. The experiences she had with men in the years that followed were unpleasant, so she is somewhat jaded about the opposite sex when she and Keir meet. And she is not sure what to think of Keir when she tries to introduce him to Louisa, only to realize he is no longer there. Keir and Marianne encounter one another again at the botanic gardens, and she confides in him about the losses she...
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