Distant Starless Nights by Myriam Ullens
*Review copy provided by the author and agent for an honest review*
Um, can we gaze upon that beautiful cover for a moment? I’ve always had a thing for rocky, water pictures, and with the gorgeous sky behind it? I knew I had to get my hands on this book somehow. It was lovely, and this fictional memoir was quite lovely as well.
Once Upon a Time…
Distant Starless Nights is a captivating tale about one woman’s search for love across decades and continents. Kimberly Rochester has led a life filled with romance and adventure. The years have also dealt her unimaginable heartbreak, but she has always triumphed over adversity thanks to her exceptional spirit and inner strength.
Then one day she finds herself alone and in despair on a beach near her manor house in Brittany. She is on the brink of relinquishing everything… until her teenaged grandchildren arrive just in time. Eager to remind their grandmother of her courage, they beg her to share her life story. Their only request? She must leave nothing out.
Kim’s history begins with an elite London upbringing, surrounded by wealth and privilege but filled with loneliness. Refusing to let her relentlessly cruel mother or a harsh Belgian convent school dampen her passion for life, Kim discovers her first friendships and the depths of her own imagination. Her dashing and loving godfather, Uncle Oliver, is a guiding light whose love and tales of adventure give her comfort and ignite her curiosity.
As Kim recounts her young adulthood in Paris, her journey to China during the Cultural Revolution, her dangerous love affair, motherhood, and the secrets and lies she uncovers along the way—she weaves a portrait of an extraordinary woman who can see the world’s beauty even in the most fragile and fleeting moments. Inspired by the author’s own life, this heartfelt novel also reveals how resilience, hope, and family can sustain a person through the greatest of hardships.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with a “fictional” memoir. I’ve read a few memoirs in my time, and I’ve always been fascinated by them. I love hearing someone’s words and the life they lived – and technically isn’t that what we’re doing each time we pick up a book? But most of the draw of a memoir – at least for me – is picking up and hearing a story of someone that actually lived. Actually is or was out there and was real. It’s a bit different than a fictional memoir.
That being said, I thought Ullens did such an interesting and good job with keeping me interested in a person’s life who was a work of fiction. I was as interested in Kim’s life as I would be if this was a real, live person who had done all these things and lived this life. There was enough to still draw me in.
I loved Ullens writing as well. There is just something about the way that she writes that draws you in and makes you feel as if it really is your grandmother telling you a story. I felt like I was cozy on the couch with my grandma telling me about her life instead of going through a book. It was that kind of writing that kept me drawn into the story.
What I also loved was the strong female friendships in the novel. I kept waiting for the romance to appear since I was promised a great love story, but at some point, I started not to care because I was drawn into the beautiful relationships that Kim was forming with others around her.
The romance was nice as well. They didn’t quite inspire a major ship for me, but I did appreciate them together. I thought that they were good together and it happened quite organically, but I just didn’t quite fully get into the intense ship as I have with some of the other novels.
The biggest drawback for me and why I knocked down a crown was the pace. Sometimes I would get a tad bored with the storyline. I’m used to reading fantasy novels with big, swooping action or adorable fluffy contemporaries that have at least one big plot twist that ends with a big breakup usually. I kept waiting for some big intense scenes to come about, and while I got those, I kept forgetting this was supposed to be a memoir: I was supposed to just enjoy it in the moment. There were some parts that I just wanted something more to happen so I started to skim.
Overall, this was such an interesting read. It was so different than what I usually read, but it was still a good read. If other fictional memoirs are like this, I definitely will be picking them up. Ullens had such a nice writing style as well. 4 crowns and a Jasmine rating!
Check it out:
What do you think? Have you read any fictional memoirs? How do you feel about memoirs? Let’s discuss in the comments below!