It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of A Sky Full of Stars by Dani Atkins. Published by Head of Zeus, it’s been available as an ebook, in hardcover and as an audiobook since February: the paperback was published on 5th August, available via Amazon, Bookshop.org, Waterstones or your favourite high street book shop. My thanks to the publishers for the invitation and support, and for my ecopy of this lovely book (provided via netgalley).
It took me a while to discover Dani Atkins’ books – every single one sitting on my kindle based on the wonderful reviews I’ve seen. In 2018, This Love won the Romantic Novel of the Year award – then While I Was Sleeping followed, and I still couldn’t manage to fit in the reading. I finally managed to find out for myself the reason her books are so loved by everyone who reads them when I read A Million Dreams (you’ll find my review here – a stunning story, beautifully told, of motherhood, loss and love. And now I can fit in another… and I’m delighted I was able to do so…
The new heart-breaking love story from award-winning romance writer Dani Atkins.
He’d have done everything differently if he’d known she’d be gone so soon…
When Lisa married Alex, she gave his life meaning. She was a professional astronomer: a stargazer. And when she gazed at Alex, she saw that behind his tough exterior was a man she could love.
Alex, Lisa and their young son Connor made a happy little universe. But when Lisa dies suddenly, their universe is destroyed. Alex is shattered by loss, and overwhelmed by the difficulties of being a single father to a six-year-old boy.
Then Alex meets four strangers. Two men and two women, who never met Lisa, but whose lives changed profoundly because she died. As Alex hears their stories, he begins to realise the world may not be as cruel and senseless as it seems. Perhaps, after all, the future is written in the stars…
In readiness for the “heart-breaking love story”, I made sure I was prepared for this one – no mascara, tissues in easy reach – and I will admit I was sobbing from fairly close to the start. There’s a glimpse of the small family and their life filled with love and happiness – but when wife and mother (and astronomer) Lisa heads off to London for an conference, she’s involved in a tragic accident and leaves husband Alex and young son Connor struggling to face life without her. Their immense grief and sense of loss is just perfectly captured – with Alex desperately trying to be both father and mother to a child who refuses to believe that she won’t be returning.
But life moves on, and this becomes a story of afterwards – and of the four people who have the strongest of reasons to be grateful to Lisa after her death. Against all the rules, Alex decides to meet them all, and their lives become intertwined – and the story follows them all into the future, as they find their own ways forward.
The story is told from the viewpoints of Alex himself – always a sad figure, but driven by a whole range of emotions associated with the part Lisa played in the lives of this group of strangers – and Molly, a primary school teacher who engages particularly well with six-year-old Connor while negotiating her own problems and challenges. Every single character in this book is exceptionally well-drawn and likeable, easy to identify with, their different challenges making wonderful reading, with that balance of joy and heartbreak that the author does so very well. The relationships between them all are beautifully handled, as is the character development – when I read my last book from the author, I mentioned “reading with your heart”, and it’s most certainly how I felt about this one too. And as well as the developing relationships between the strangers, there are other relationships that add richness and depth – particularly Alex’s closeness to brother Todd, always there with a hug of support and the wise advice Alex doesn’t want to hear, and Molly’s relationship with her mother.
This is a book filled with moments – there are a few that make me fill up when I think about them, but others are moments of lightness and sheer joy that make you feel filled with love and can’t help but bring a smile. The book is perfectly judged at an emotional level – but there’s far more to this book than the sense of hope it leaves you with and the tears you’ll shed. There’s a lot of light humour too, and a touch of romance – and a few moments of considerable drama, beautifully balanced with that day-to-day detail of people’s ordinary lives that had me entirely invested in its characters. The issues the book raises are always sensitively handled, all wrapped around a compelling and enthralling story that breaks your heart but slowly pieces it together again.
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this wonderful book – the story-telling is superb, the book’s impact is stunning, and I’d very strongly recommend it to others.
About the author
Dani Atkins is an award-winning novelist. Her 2013 debut Fractured (published as Then and Always in North America) has been translated into seventeen languages and has sold more than half a million copies since first publication in the UK.
Dani is the author of five other bestselling novels (The Story of Us, Our Song, This Love, While I Was Sleeping and A Million Dreams) and Perfect Strangers, a standalone eBook novella. In 2018, This Love won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award at the RNA awards in London.
Dani lives in a small village in Hertfordshire with her husband, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie.
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