One of Stella Gibbons’ oddest books (and I’ve read most of them), Starlight was first published in 1967 and is one of her later works. It feels like it’s set a decade earlier than that, despite some disparaging references to television, pop music and processed food. I had read it before and didn’t remember anything other than there being a weird, supernatural twist.
Set in north London, the novel follows several characters. Gladys and Annie, elderly sisters who rent rooms in a shabby house on a street which has evidence of WW2 bomb damage. Mr Fisher, the mysterious gentleman who lives in the attic. Mr Pearson, the harsh landlord, and his wife who is ill and allegedly possessed by an evil spirit. Erika, a German teenager who has had a harsh life. Peggy, the Pearsons’ smart daughter who is pining for a married man. Peggy’s employer, Mrs Corlett and middle-aged son Arnold who is in love with Peggy. Plus, an elderly but streetwise vicar Mr Geddes and a bookish curate named Gerald. The story, such as it is, revolves around the spiritual and cultural conflict between these characters. Despite having little plot and an awkward clash of genres, the book is somehow quite absorbing. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re new to the author’s work but it’s certainly worth checking out if you want to read more from her.
This edition published by Vintage in 2011.