Cover Image: Songs in Ursa Major

Songs in Ursa Major

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Member Reviews

Emma Brodie’s debut novel and I have to admit I loved it. 

Set in the late 60s/early 70s it tells the story of Jane Quinn a young up and coming singer and her complicated relationships with rising star Jesse Reid, her family and also ultimately herself. 

The mood is captured perfectly here as we are catapulted back to the time of folk music, record companies owning artists, causal drug taking, blatant sexism, the works. 

I really devoured this book. I’m a lover of music in general so this piqued my interest anyway but you don’t have to be a music fan to love this story. 

Well rounded complicated flawed characters, great story telling, the book feels as real as it gets. Jane is a fascinating character as she struggles with herself as much as the system and indeed the flawed Jesse. 

A fantastic debut. If you get a chance go read this. It’s a real gem. 

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC through Netgalley.
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When nascent star Jesse Reid has a motorbike accident minutes before his set at a folk festival, local band The Breakers are rushed onstage to perform.  They catch the eye of a talent scout from a major label and the band, including singer Jane Quinn, are set for stardom.  Riding on the coat-tails of Jesse's success and his romance with Jane is great until suddenly it isn't and Jesse and Jane both have secrets that destroy their relationship.  Maybe Jane's response to their break-up, an album called Songs in Ursa Major, can heal.
There have been a slew of books about fictional female rock stars of the late sixties over the past few years and this is up with the best of them.  Jane is a feminist figurehead but the story is not stridently political, it is a coherent and sensitively written narrative in which drug addiction and mental health are drivers.  I enjoyed the story and listened to the message.
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An enjoyable read but I found the ending unsatisfying. The twist in regards to the protagonist's mother felt like it came from nowhere and was not necessary. A fun diversion but not one I think will stay with me for very long, I'm afraid.
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"The Breakers" get their big break at a local but influential music festival when rising star Jesse Reid has an accident just before his headline show and they are called to step in. After this lead singer Jane Quinn is transformed into Janie Q, soulful songstress and her and her band mates end up on whirlwind of recording their first album and touring within months.
We see the hedonism of the scene at the time, while also seeing the pitfalls of being a rock and roll star in the 1970s. Family back stories, romantic relationships and fractured friendships punctuate Jane's story. 
The comparisons between this and "Daisy Jones.." are inevitable but unfair in a way - this book is about Jane alone, and her life, loves and demons, not the cast of characters in the same way Daisy Jones was.  However, once I hit about the 2/3 mark and different things started happening that I didn't enjoy as much, plus an ending that I was hoping would redeem it and didn't, the hopeful interest I had had for this was gone.
Had high hopes, and there were some good parts, but ultimately disappointed
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I finished this book yesterday and have spent some time thinking over my feelings on it before preparing this review. 

It did take me a while to get into and then for a good chunk of the book I loved it. At times I did feel that there was a little  too much detail about the album and occasionally found Jane a bit annoying although in saying that I was rooting for her and Jesse. 

I liked how there were often song lyrics included throughout and how this book also shone a light on how mental health was a stigma in the 60s/70s and how hard it was for women to be treated equally! 

Thank you to #NetGalley and #HarperCollins for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. #SongsInUrsaMajor
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This book, I can’t lie, after reading the blurb, I had high hopes for it. And I was not disappointed. Songs in Ursa Major, a debut by Emma Brodie (an editor, so she knows her stuff). Hit even note on the score for me. I loved the characters, the scenery of the Island, the story – based upon the love story between Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. It just ticked every box.

Jane lives on Bayleen Island, with a blended family, her grandmother and aunt brought her up. After her Mum left. Her Mum wanted a music career and it didn’t work out and she couldn’t cope with that fact. Jane has the same affinity with music, she can pick up an instrument and with hours can play it perfectly, so with Rich, Kyle and Greg she forms a band. The Breakers – they play local bars and play at the local music festival. When top spot Jesse Reid is taken ill and can’t play, The Breakers are asked to step in, the crowd aren’t keen, until they start playing and then they too are cheering on. When Willy Lambert of Pegasus records walks into the Carousel and offers Jane a record deal, their futures are written into musical history.

Before they know it, The Breakers are on tour with Jesse Reid’s band and gaining their own fan base. During this time is when the love and intensity between Jesse and Jane grows and they can no longer deny the tension between them. But Jane beens warned about Jesse and wants to keep their tryst a secret, from fans and journalists, and more importantly her family. Jane’s right to be wary and when it all get too much, and the music isn’t enough, she has to go home, back to Bayleen.

Heartbreak gets turned into music and the songs become her own album – Songs In Ursa Major is born. The book screams summer and festivals. A true insight into the music industry, the sexism that Jane faced and the world around it, including drugs and the party lifestyle. It’s not as glamorous as its made out to be. This is a book for any music/band fan, with its feet firmly planted in rock n roll historical fiction.

Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended. More please!!
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‘Songs in Ursa Major’ is one of those books that you read, cannot stop thinking about and then keep recommending it to everyone you know because you want to talk about it. 
The whole book is so atmospheric and perfectly captures the whole essence of the American music scene in the early 70’s. If you enjoyed the feeling of Emma Cline’s ‘The girls’, you will completely fall in love with this story. The main character Jane Quinn embodies the soulful yet sorrowful themes of the songs that she performs as begins her musical career at her island’s local folk festival.
Jane comes from a long line of independent women but she is not immune to perils of love and lust and finds herself drawn towards rising rock star, Jesse Reid. The path of these two talents will ultimately cross and divert from one another but their experiences are immortalised in their music. I personally loved all of the original lyrics throughout the novel and considering that this is Brodie’s debut she creates these fully formed, complex characters that you instantly fall in love with. 
I cannot wait for more from this writer but until then I may have to re-read ‘Ursa Major’ because just like a favourite record you want to rediscover the words all over again.
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I loved this. It riffs off themes of fate, love, secrets, and the big question of how much free choice we all have about where we end up.
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Songs in Ursu Major is sexy yet sweet. It's a love story about music, family and souls connecting.

Jane Quinn and her band The Breakers, have their breakthrough moment when they stand in for Jesse Reid, rising star. Offered a record contract and a supporting role on Jesse's tour, it seems too good to be true. And before long, it all begins to fall apart.

Whilst I enjoyed this book, there was nothing truly surprising or endearing for me. The characters were just ok. It lacked a certain depth that would have allowed for a greater connection. It isn't a book that will stay with me, it was just pleasant enough.
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This is up there with being one of my favourite books this year.

I fell in lust with the front cover and fell head over heels in love with the story contained within the pages.

The characters and the depth of their stories just tugged at my heart strings.

It wasn't overly dramatic, 

A tale of music, fame and family that reads as though it really happened. It could easily be a documentary of someone's life (it is loosely based on the affair between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell).

The songs, the words. They read like poetry and I could imagine them playing in my head. They were like the glue that bought it all together.

Love is the focus. But not all of it the romantic kind. Love of people, of life and of the things we do.


And an unexpected but rather satisfying ending left me with a feeling of comfort. As though things were meant to be.

A debut novel that I'd happily read again.
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Based around the music scene of the 60’s/70’s Songs in Ursa Major is a novel to lose yourself in.  Well written it was the final third that really brought the book together for me. 
Thank you Netgalley for the ARC, a strong 3.75 stars for this.
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A bit like “A Star is Born” initially, then became less formulaic and far more interesting. 
This book kept me enthralled from start to finish, such an unusual tale, a very beautiful love story.
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Songs in Ursa Major is one of the best books released this year and is a perfect summer read. If you liked Daisy Jones and the Six then you will probably really love this too. Loosely based off a high profile relationship in the 60's this is a book that oozes charm, romance and gives a brilliant insight into the industry. There is nothing bad to say about the book. It was a totally enjoyable read.
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I struggled to become engaged with this book at first. Eventually I started to understand the characters. There were some unexpected revelations along the way which helped it flow. Sometimes I found the descriptions of albums rather too detailed and long winded.
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What an atmospheric, rock and roll debut - the is is such an addictive read! Following the super-talent and all-round amazingness of Jane Quinn as she tries to break into the 1970s music scene, this is a love story for music lovers, as well as a look at the darker sides of the music industry.

I see Jane as a total feminist icon. She’s an incredible musician, she knows it, and is not afraid to go for exactly what she wants and deserves. Her chemistry with Jesse Reid is 🔥 and I love how she is the one who wants to keep their relationship a secret, completely disinterested in reflected glory and determined to make it on her own merit alone.

There’s a Spotify playlist to accompany the book, which I’d highly recommend having a listen to if you want to be fully transported to Jane and Jesse’s world.

A great summer read, one which I highly recommend.
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If you loved Daisy Jones & The Six, then you're going to enjoy this one! It has the same behind the scenes vibes of the music industry, this time in the late '60's/early 70's, and while it didn't quite get me in the emotional way that Daisy did, then it did a wonderful job of transporting me back to a different world - there's also a Spotify Playlist linked to the book so if you get a chance to listen while you read I would highly recommend it! I loved it and it made for the perfect reading music!

This is a story partly based on the relationship between Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, and all centres around a folk festival in 1969 where the star of the show - Jesse Reid - is a late cancellation due to an serious accident, and a local band, led by Jane Quinn, get to stand in and steal the show and this sets her off on a journey of success and fame, alongside the downsides which come with that!

Jane is every bit not your 'diva' - she's hardworking and struggling for money, so when the chance to help out nurse Jesse back to full health she jumps at the chance, and he's blown over by her being normal around him! For someone with big success, that's a rarity. The more time they spend together, the closer they become and he begins to advise them on songs and gets them started in the music business.

I loved their chats together, how they opened up to one another and it was also striking how different she was treated in the music industry compared to her male contemporaries.

There's partying, sex, drugs & rock'n'roll and that's when we get to see different sides to these characters and cracks begin to appear in the relationship - and just how easily people can be replaced in the music industry if they don't play along and 'do as they're told'! There's also a look back at family secrets that added to the mix!

I really enjoyed the characters and the music scene setting and look forward to reading more from this author in the future!
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Excellent book, great characters, to really care about and very well written. Learn about misogyny in the music industry, the creative process, mental illness, addiction but most of all this is a love story. Highly recommended
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This book first appealed to me as it gave off a ‘Daisy Jones’ vibe. A book I loved. Songs In Ursa Major is loosely based on a well publicised affair between two high profile folk rock singers in the late 60s. It tells the story of Jane - the youngest of her all female family and a feisty firecracker of a character. Jane can sing, and write & play almost any instrument that she picks up. Jane lives on the remote Bayleen Island and works several jobs to make ends meet. This all changes when her band The Breakers have to step in for rising star Jesse Reid at the local island festival. This is the story of life on tour, band dynamics, a love affair between two damaged people, a matriarchal family battling their own demons & a woman who is determined to get what she deserves. I really liked this book - it was a lovely chance to escape to another time and another world. I liked Jane a lot - and her attitude to life in a male dominated industry.
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Thanks to Netgalley and author for the arc in exchange for my unbiased opinion on the book. Love the book. Would love to read more from the author
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On the face of it Songs in Ursa Major looks like a feel good love story based  in the 60s / 70s folk music scene and Emma Brodie completely captures the spirit of this era.  Her complex characters and their lives  makes this so much more than a love story.

One of the best books I have read this year, a must for every ones summer reading list.

I was given a copy of Songs in Ursa Major by NetGalley and the publishers in return for an unbiased review.
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