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Pub Date 23 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 23 Jun 2022
VERVE Books, Verve Books

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It's a fine line between admiration and envy.

Diana Martin has lived her life in the shadow of her sadistic older brother. She quietly watches the family next door, enthralled by celebrity fashion designer Marianne Taylor and her feted daughter, Aurelle.

She wishes she were a 'Taylor girl'.

By the summer of 1995, the two girls are at university together, bonded by a mutual desire to escape their wealthy families and personal tragedies and forge new identities.

They are closer than lovers, intoxicated by their own bond, falling into the hedonistic seduction of the woods and the water at a remote university that is more summer camp than campus.

But when burgeoning artist Diana has a chance at fame, cracks start to appear in their friendship. To what lengths is Diana willing to go to secure her own stardom?

The lines between love, envy and obsession blur in Laurie Petrou's utterly enthralling, unceasingly tense novel. A darkly compelling coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, and Emma Cline's The Girls.

It's a fine line between admiration and envy.

Diana Martin has lived her life in the shadow of her sadistic older brother. She quietly watches the family next door, enthralled by celebrity fashion...

Advance Praise

'Stargazer is a dark and dreamlike journey into the obsession, envy and love between two young friends in the 90s. The tension simmers in this atmospheric lake-side setting until the crushing end. Laurie Petrou's writing is melodic and immersive. A delicious read!' - Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push  

'A sinuous, captivating exploration of the mysterious depths of female friendship that had me hooked from its first pages. The vivid, finely wrought setting - a prestigious, remote college campus - was a delicious reminder of another favourite novel, Donna Tartt's The Secret History. Petrou's dreamlike, note-perfect prose simmers toward a shattering conclusion. This unforgettable novel from a truly talented novelist is perfect for fans of Celeste Ng' - Marissa Stapley, bestselling author of The Last Resort

'Laurie Petrou has crafted a chilling look at the fine line between love and obsession, longing and desperation, ambition and mania. It's a look at the cusp of adulthood, when all things - beautiful and terrible - are possible. These women will haunt you' - Gin Phillips, author of The Well and The Mine

'An outstanding book with some of the most beautiful lines I've ever read' - Samantha M. Bailey, USA Today and #1 national bestselling author of Woman on the Edge

'Stargazer is a slow-burn literary thriller in the best possible way: Eerie, beautiful, and impossible to put down. I loved it' - Robyn Harding, international bestselling author, The Perfect Family

'Stargazer is a galaxy of a novel' - Amy Stuart, bestselling author of the Still series

'Stargazer is a dark and dreamlike journey into the obsession, envy and love between two young friends in the 90s. The tension simmers in this atmospheric lake-side setting until the crushing end...

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ISBN 9780857308221
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Featured Reviews

Stargazer is a compelling story of female friendship, art, grief, insecurity, fame and so much more.

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but honestly this cover was so aesthetically pleasing that I just couldn't help myself - and I'm so glad about that. So much of this book is character driven, following protagonists Aurelle and Diana as they leave home for the first time to go to a rural university. Neither character was particularly likeable but they didn't have to be as they were complex and imperfect and intriguing so I still wanted to find out more about them. I didn't love the ending of the novel (possibly because I wanted more book!), but still, I understood how it fit into the wider story and themes explored so I didn't lose too much enjoyment over that. Definitely worth reading and I personally will be looking up Laurie Petrou's other work in the future.

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I actually can't tell you what it was about this book I liked so much.
It was intense,and creepy,and fraught with the knowledge that something big was going to happen....
My sympathies flew between the characters, changing with each passing chapter.
It pulled me in , in the first few pages and I didn't want to put it down.

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This is an immersive & addictive book at it's best.
Fortunate enough to read it early thanks to NetGalley, the premise intrigued me initially but as I started to read it, I found myself hopelessly lost in the world of these two astonishing central characters. These characters are so strong & dynamic, they are the central pillars of a story which has every element of human emotion. & displays every colour of the human soul.

By the end of the book you will feel that you know these characters so well, with the result of feeling every heartbeat of their joy & heartbreaks. Nothing is truly revealed until the last few pages & the conclusion, whilst not being a completely unexpected, will still resonate for a long time as you reach the final word. I won't forget this book for a while and the sorrow & pain is tangible with this book. I can only hope that I'm not the only one who enjoyed this so much and hope this is a smash, because it absolutely deserves to be.

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I assume that all women are trying to recover from their teenage years, and books like this just convince me that I’m right.
The two central characters of Stargazer, Diana and Aurelle have grown up as neighbours, but in their vast and privileged lives managed to keep their distance. Diana, the daughter always coming second to a much loved son, envies Aurelle and her designer mother their celebrity lifestyles. Finally falling into an intense friendship born or secrets and quiet adoration, their relationship develops and deteriorates until it becomes almost parasitic.
Diana and Aurelle’s early friendship is so familiar; that thrill that comes from finding someone who seems to be the only person in the world who really understands you never seems as real as it does in our teenage years.
When the girls attend a remote college, perfectly both prestigious and modern, Petrou expertly describes their college experiences, with one easily immersed and accepted into the academic life she loves, and the other increasingly alienated. Petrou’s descriptions of Diana’s art work are exquisite and make it easy to picture the pieces. I found the drug taking harder to believe, but I’m sure that says more about my naivety than Petrou’s storytelling.
More than friendship, Stargazer is an interesting study on family, the legacy of celebrity, and the question of the subject of art. And while the story is told from the perspectives of both Diana and Aurelle, Diana’s is the dominant voice, by the end I did wonder if I could believe her side of the story.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

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Stargazer had such a haunting and intense atmosphere throughout. The writing style, the descriptions of Aurelle and Diana's emotions, was so viseral and affecting. I felt swept up in Aurelle and Diana's friendship, invested in their relationship and future. I really felt for Diana and Aurelle, but the uncomfortable undertone of there being something not quite right kept me on edge. You could definitely feel a storm brewing. The climax was subtle and snuck up on me, making my heart race.
I loved it.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I wasnt sure what to expect from this novel but I found it to be a compelling read. It was gripping right from the start and I couldnt put it down. It was chillingly atmospheric and well written with well developed characters. A good read.

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Stargazer, Laurie

Summer 1995, Diana and Aurelle are inseparable. Living together in Dianas parents cottage about to start freshman year.
Diana is ambitious but awkward. Aurelle is likeable. One of the girls has a secret, which one is it?

A drop into a decade passed, Stargazer treads that boundary between teenager and adulthood. With care, attention and beautifully written. This tension builder is a must read this summer.

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I absolutely loved this! What a fantastic plot, beautifully written, intertwining the relationships between the characters in such an ingenious and realistic way.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Set in the ‘90s, Laurie Petrou’s Stargazer follows Aurelle and Diana who become inseparable after Diana’s bullying brother drowns, choosing to study at the university attended by Aurelle’s famous mother where they set up house together. Diana is happy to dip into student life but remains largely aloof, while Aurelle relishes her apparent anonymity. As the year wears on, Diana proves herself to be a prodigious artistic talent at a terrible cost to Aurelle who throws herself into partying.

Petrou’s narrative straddles two timelines before and after Diana and Aurelle become friends, shifting perspectives between the two while fleshing out their characters. There’s lots of foreshadowing so we know something will go wrong but what interested me was the exploration of art, fame, sibling relationships and friendship which give the novel its heft while keeping up a page-turning pace.

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The best book I’ve read all year. I didn’t think she could improve on Sister of Mine. But she can. She has. And in style! Absolutely adores this. It has beautiful prose whilst building up a slow kind of inevitable dread. I look forward to her next book (and I’ve just bought her Youth Fiction book). A real talent.

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Big kiss to NetGalley, Laurie Petrou and Verve Books for advanced access to this book !

I really loved this book ! Like read it in a day loved it ! Stargazer is one of those books where about halfway through you know what happens, there's only really one way this book can go. But still you read because the ending already appearing does not ruin your want to read it at all; that's how good Petrou's writing is !

Big for anyone who has ever had an intense female friendship/ had family problems or ever wanted to be more successful than they are. These characters are not likeable; they are all pretty messed up people and you kind of hate them all by the end but... you do still feel sympathy for them, you understand them and pity them. Petrou is very good at making you understand all sides of the tale and how everyone became the way that they are. A commentary on how adults can mess up their children's life and the trauma that young adults carry.

In conclusion I am obsessed with this book and cannot wait to see what Petrou does next !

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Stargazer by Laurie Petrou is a story set in the 90’s examining the depths of friendship between two girls.

This is definitely not your usual fluffy female friendships story as Petrou brilliantly dives into some dark material and manages to create an ominous, almost frighteningly foreboding, atmosphere all the way through.

Petrou is an absolute expert at delivering dark themes at just the right moments with just the right amount of buildup. Often in books, the buildup is dragged out so long that the actual events themselves fall flat and have no effect on the reader - this was definitely not the case here.

I loved how the intensity of female friendships were shown here and it really did bring me back to past friendships I’ve had in my teenage years and in my early 20’s. Petrou’s ability to describe the two main characters emotions to such a visceral and affecting degree was astounding.

Whilst the beginning of the book can feel a tad slow, it is vital to the end of the book. I think it’s what makes this book so addictive - you know something is going to happen but you don’t know when which just forces you to read on.

Overall I loved this book to the point that I will be purchasing a physical copy when it comes out. I will also be automatically buying anything Laurie Petrou publishes in the future!

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Haunting and everything I wanted it to be, Stargazer is fantastic and I will be reading more from Laurie Petrou. I was and will be thinking about this book for a while

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Heady and evocative, Stargazer retraces the mutually obsessive relationship between to young women -- spanning years from their adolescence to the tantalising first steps into adulthood.

Ambitious Diana Martin has spent her life enduring the abuse from her older brother, watching the family next door - the Taylors - with combination of shiny-eyed admiration and burning envy: star fashion designer Marianne Taylor, beautiful and charming, and Aurelle, her adored but shy and directionless teen daughter, of the same age as Diana.

In the wake of a terrible tragedy, their lives finally intertwine. Diane and Aurelle's bond turns to be sweetly vicious, gripping the reader just as tight as it grips them, fuelling the impending sense of doom that only grows stronger by the page and triggering a sequence of events that, in hindsight, could have led nowhere else.

After all, what can come out of a relationship where love and obsession and envy burn just as bright if not charred ground?

Stargazer is firmly nestled the 1990s; the hedonistic atmospheres, the music, the makeup, the drugs, the salacious freedom of a remote, elite university. This novel is a dive into the seemingly placid depths of a lake that hides turbulent and dangerous currents. Weeks after turning its last page, I still feel the lure of it, and I'm sure so will you.

Many thanks to Laurie Petrou, the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC.

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Wow - quite the rollercoaster! Not having read any of Petrou's work before, I was unsure if I was going to enjoy it. But what a thrill ride - the dual narrative took a while to get used to, but once in is a very pacey, thrilling and raw book about interestingly flawed young women navigating their place in the world, and what risks you'd take to be part of another's life. I was really glad it was set in the 1990s as that rich mine of culture and pre-internet exposure allows for a deep dive into the recklessness of that decade and its defining moments in art, coming of age anarchy and freedom. Very clever twists and turns between Diana and Aurelle, which pose the idea of risk it takes to keep the muse and the psychology of control over again. Very enjoyable!

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The Great Gatsby meets The Secret History: an ominous and compelling tale of love, grief, obsession, privilege, envy and celebrity. Laurie Petrou’s characters could so easily become caricatures, but are drawn so finely as to keep them just on the right side of believable. This book is going to haunt me.

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It's 1995, and best friends Diana and Aurelle are off to college together and ready to lose themselves i party, art and finding themselves. Despite being neighbours for years, the girls only recently connected and found a bond through Diana's experience of being bullied by her older brother her entire life, and Aurelle's experience being swallowed and shadowed by her famous family. But as Diana grows in college, Aurelle becomes smaller and will Diana turn her back on her best friend?

This is such an interesting deep dive into the complexities of female friendship and the type of up an down/weak and strong dynamics there are in many types of relationships from friendships to romantic ones.

I loved the build up of who Diana and Aurelle are going into their first semester, and the almost contradiction of who they should be as character. Diana, who her whole life has been second best to her bully of her brother, should be meek and shy whereas she is strong, confident and opinionated - and then Aurelle, who has been surrounded by love in a family that opened their doors to everyone, is the weaker one, never able to truly find herself because of her connection to her fashion designer mother.

This was a slightly soul torturing book to read as we see all facets of who the girls are, what drives their decision making - their highs and their lows, and how Diana began to climb up the ladder but used Aurelle as a stepping stone, crushing her on their way. So many times I wanted to reach out to Aurelle and hold her close to me, to get her away. A really good example of how abusive, controlling relationships can come in so many different forms and they're not always romantic.

I loved the insight into artists and their muses in this book too, and the conversation it provoked about what was ethical versus borderline problematic/abusive when it comes to muses and consent, and using images or inspiration in ways that could embarrass or hurt. Honestly, Diana became one of the cruelest people through her selfishness and how she looked at Aurelle slipping into the shadows and thought it was okay to continue. Just so hard to read yet so realistic at the same time.

Definitely recommend this one!

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Petrou's beautiful writing contrasts with a lingering darkness than overhangs this novel. So atmospheric I felt transported to rural Canada, Stargazer is an exploration of female friendships, family, wealth, loneliness, coming of age, and fame. With a vibe reminiscent of Tartt's The Secret History, Petrou has created a fascinating, character driven novel that I've no doubt will keep friends and book groups in discussion for years to come. My first experience of Patrou's work and it won't be my last.

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This book is about the female bond, obsession, insecurity and loneliness.

Gripping compelling and short it’s a real winner.

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An addictive book that I couldn't put down!

The characters were both well thought out and explored, each with their own pains and difficulties. As the book progressed I saw how twisted and destructive their relationship had become and was intrigued until the end.


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Diana grew up next door to a celebrity family, wishing she could be a part of that world, rather than her own unhappy experiences. This is a story of rivalry and envy, success and feeling second best, wishing to be in the limelight or shrinking from it, an experience of youthful friendship and social failures. The writing hits the right note, family expectations and also dysfunctional families, where both leave an unhappy longing to escape.
You can picture yourself there it is so beautifully described and keeps you guessing as to where it’s headed. Well worth the read.

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A dark and twisted tale that I devoured in one sitting, desperate to find out what happened. Its difficult to say too much without giving the plot away, but it's one of those thrillers that I can see making its way to the screen.. The characters, not all of them likeable, were brilliantly crafted and there are so many 'nooooooooo' moments throughout the story due to unexpected twists. When you cry for a character you know the author has done well Oh, and the references to 90s music were nostalgic too.. I loved it!

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This novel has gotten under my skin. I absolutely adored it.

It’s about two young women - Diana and Aurelle - who lived together throughout their childhood but only became friends the year before going off to college. Both girls are wealthy, but from different backgrounds. Diane’s family life is distant and shrouded in recent tragedy, whereas Aurelle’s family are large and loving. Aurelle’s mother is a famous artist and fashion designer. The girls’ friendship becomes intense and all-encompassing and they decide to go to college together. Then their lives begin to unravel in different ways…

I fell completely head over heels with this novel. The descriptions of the settings, especially the cabin and the lake, were intoxicating, and the girls themselves were both relatable in their own ways. This book was just so beautifully written that I’m not sure I can do it justice in my review. I also don’t want to say any more about the plot because I don’t want to include spoilers but I found it moved in surprising ways. By the end I was dumbstruck.

Honestly this is a real contender for one of my favourite reads of 2022. Stunning.

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I couldn't put this book down. It was such a gripping, poignant read. I really liked the author's writing style, it felt understated and everything, all the emotions, just sort of creep onto you? I don't know if I'm making sense but as I was reading to the ending, I had those kinds of emotions. Like I knew something was going to go wrong and there were a dozen ways it could and I was getting scared but I couldn't stop reading.

Both main characters, Diana and Aurelle, were extremely sympathetic to me. Diana especially, I really liked. She's not likeable at all but somehow you understand why she's become who she is. Aurelle as well, I felt really bad for her. Watching how their relationship went on a downward slope was heartbreaking.

I've already said that the author has great writing, but I just want to point out how she gave such vivid descriptions about the college Diana and Aurelle go to, the lake, the art, the way it was all summer camp style, I really loved it. It felt realistic and nostalgic and actually made me wish it was real so I could go visit.

Finishing it left me with a hollow feeling inside my chest. I started this book with already high expectations and it really did reach all the high marks.

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Diana always admired the family next door, the mum (Marianne Taylor) is a famous fashion designer and her family just seem so nice compared to her own. Her hateful sadistic older brother spends his time bullying her and loves nothing more than showing her up in front of his friends.
When tragedy strikes for Diana's family, Marianne encourages her daughter Aurelle to befriend Diana and they soon forge a very strong bond to each other, more than just friends, they are lovers and soulmates.
This book is so descriptive, of places sights sound and emotions that you feel like you are there in the moment with them. It's set in 1995 which is relatable to me because I was a similar age to them at that time. It is utterly unputdownable!
Throughout the book there is an undertone that something is going to happen and the further you get into the book the more chilling and haunting it becomes!

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I enjoyed it, and gave it 4 stars in the end. The book moves between the point of view of Diana and Marianne. I liked them both, but equally disliked them too. You’ll get why when you read it. The friendship was so toxic, yet beautiful, and tragic all at once. Their closeness was something else, they do everything together, and it all started kind of by chance. The things they go through, tell each other, and help each other with is the stuff all friendships should be made of. But the underlying jealousy and nastiness creeps its way through, and the story ends so far from where you’d first imagine.

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This is a gripping novel based on the intense, young friendship of two girls who come together after the death of Diana's brother and have stayed together ever since. At first the pair look like a match brought together by fate who really bring out the best of them both but as Diana starts to focus more on her art at the expense of her muse, things change for the worse. There is a dark edge throughout the novel which comes out towards the last third and makes sure you don't want to put it down until the very end. Overall an intense and dark story with a twist.

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Stargazer’ by Laurie Petrou is a story of two girls - Aurelle Taylor and Diana Martin. Neighbours who paid little attention to one another until one day following tragedy they become best friends, inseparable and so begins a tale of love, obsession, heatbreak and loneliness as Diana chases stardom whilst Aurelle loses herself in the shadow of her friend and her family legacy.

The narrative takes a bit of getting use to as it flickers between past and ‘present’, this eventually serves the book well as we begin to understand the motives and personalities of the characters.

The pacing remains bizarre throughout and at moments I felt as if I was waiting for something to happen. If you seek a book with twists and turns this isn't for you, it is a slow burn (in my opinion) but pays off at the end.

Nevertheless an enjoyable book, 4.5 stars.

Thank you Netgalley and publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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