Songs in Ursa Major
Published June 22, 2021 by Knopf
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A fabulous debut novel from Emma Brodie! Set beginning in 1969 at the Bayleen Island Folk Festival, Songs in Ursa Major introduces us to the main players, local singer Jane Quinn and Jesse Reid, who is already making a name for himself in the music industry. When headliner Jesse has an accident on the way to perform, those in charge ask Jane and her band to fill in for him. The rest is history, as the story goes. Jane and Jesse strike up a friendship which later becomes more. Songs is said to be based on the real-life relationship between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell and early reviews indicate that the similarities are obvious to anyone who knows the story of Taylor and Mitchell. I’m not well-versed in early 1970s music history so I can’t speak to the truth in those reviews but it piques my curiosity enough to check that out. Part coming-of-age, part music history, part romance, Songs in Ursa Major delivers in every way and I tore through it in one day. Trigger warnings abound, as you would expect from a novel about the music industry in 1969–drug use, mental illness, misogyny, bullying, and open door sex scenes. If you like Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, be sure to check out Songs in Ursa Major. Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me an advanced review copy.