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Sister Stardust: A Novel
by Jane Green

Published: 2022-04-05T00:0
Hardcover : 336 pages
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*NATIONAL BESTSELLER*

A PARADE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK POST BEST BOOK OF THE WEEK

In her first novel inspired by a true story, Jane Green re-imagines the life of troubled icon Talitha Getty in this transporting story from a forgotten chapter of the Swinging ...

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Introduction

*NATIONAL BESTSELLER*

A PARADE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK POST BEST BOOK OF THE WEEK

In her first novel inspired by a true story, Jane Green re-imagines the life of troubled icon Talitha Getty in this transporting story from a forgotten chapter of the Swinging '60s

From afar Talitha's life seemed perfect. In her twenties, and already a famous model and actress, she moved from London to a palace in Marrakesh, with her husband Paul Getty, the famous oil heir. There she presided over a swirling ex-pat scene filled with music, art, free love and a counterculture taking root across the world.

When Claire arrives in London from her small town, she never expects to cross paths with a woman as magnetic as Talitha Getty. Yearning for the adventure and independence, she's swept off to Marrakesh, where the two become kindred spirits. But beneath Talitha's glamourous facade lurks a darkness few can understand. As their friendship blossoms and the two grow closer, the realities of Talitha's precarious existence set off a chain of dangerous events that could alter Claire's life forever.

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Excerpt

We turned down a narrow street when a donkey-pulled cart almost knocked us over. Finally we turned into a small alley, dark and crooked, a stray cat sitting in a doorway. In front of us were huge wooden doors at least sixteen feet high, and our strange little group gathered outside. I wondered where the palace was that we were supposed to be visiting.

“What are we doing here?” asked Dave.

“This is the palace, darling!” said Lissy, as Eddie started sniggering. This was far away from the high stone house on a hill I had presumed to be our destination. I looked around at the rubbish scattered on the dark cobbled street, and Lissy must have registered my surprise.

“It’s a series of riads,” she said. “You can laugh now, but wait until they open the doors.”

The word riad, I later discovered, comes from the Arabic word for garden. There is always a central interior, usually with a fountain, and trees. Riads were, historically, built for wealthier families, like courtiers and tradesmen, built upward in a medina, the old walled center, of Moroccan cities.

Islamic architecture is typically modest on the outside, wealth and riches hidden behind nondescript stone walls, so as not to inspire jealousy. Tiled courtyards and fountains, hand-carved painted wooden ceilings, the scent of orange trees, rosemary and jacaranda—gardens of Eden blooming behind austere ex- teriors. But none were like the Palais de la Zahia, which con- sisted of numerous riads strung together to form a palace you would never have known about from the outside.

Lissy rang three times, to silence. Eventually she banged on those huge doors, as I stepped back, worried we would of- fend even before we had arrived. Finally we heard locks being pulled back, and before us stood a wizened old man whose face exploded in a smile when he saw Lissy. She flung her arms around him in a hug, before introducing him as Si Moham-med, the gatekeeper. He was delighted to see her, to see us, as he ushered us in through the gates, into an enormous courtyard that, to this day, I can only describe as Paradise. A bewitching, magical land that no one would have believed existed from the outside. I gasped, my mouth falling open as I looked around.

We were standing on the edge of a large garden with a fountain in the middle. The garden was being adorned with emerald green tiles, parts of it were still bare concrete. There were men crouching down, carefully cementing and placing

each tile, finishing it off. Everywhere you looked, elephant ear plants exploded from the ground. There were patches of blue sky in between heavy jacaranda branches that twisted over- head, dripping with leaves and lavender-colored blossoms, the petals falling, even as we stood, covering the tiles in an explo- sion of pale purple. Palm trees surrounded everything, and as we stood, three peacocks appeared and strutted across the tiles, one of them fanning its tail out when it saw us, as Lissy laughed and I smelled the jacaranda, almost like honey, filling the air.

“Alright, Eddie?” A man appeared with long hair, his lithe, slim body in cigarette pants, his pout even more beautiful than I could have imagined. I recognized him immediately—and felt myself swooning, my heart pounding with adrenaline as I willed myself not to faint. Or scream.

“I’m Mick,” he said, as my mouth opened and closed like a fish. Mick Jagger. No one would believe me about this back home, I thought. I could barely believe it myself.

“I’m Cece. How do you do.” I shook his hand and turned as Marianne Faithfull appeared from a passageway, her hair caught back in a clip, huge sunglasses covering half her face, doing nothing to disguise her ethereal, aristocratic beauty.

“Come on, darling.” Mick turned to Marianne. “We’ll miss the flight.”

“You’re leaving?” Lissy pouted. “You can’t leave. We’ve only just got here.” view abbreviated excerpt only...

Discussion Questions

1. Imagine you were in Claire’s shoes. Would you have allowed yourself to be whisked off to a new country on a whim, and if so, any country, or one place in particular?

2. If you arrived in a strange land for your favorite celebrity to come walking down the stairs, who would it be, and what would you say to them?

3. Are you more of a rule-follower like Claire/Cece, or more of a free spirit like Talitha? Which do you think makes for a happier life?

4. Had you been the same age in the sixties, would you have dived in to this lifestyle and experimented or would you have been the observer?

5. Have you ever had experiences that are so painful, you have locked them away, or it is untenable that anyone would do that today given how many resources are available to deal with pain and trauma.

6. Which era would you like to revisit, and why.?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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