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Diamond Star Halo by Tiffany Murray
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Diamond Star Halo (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Tiffany Murray

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346329,500 (4.15)4
Member:sanddancer
Title:Diamond Star Halo
Authors:Tiffany Murray
Info:Portobello Books Ltd (2011), Edition: 2nd, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, family, music, love, 1970s, Wales

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Diamond Star Halo by Tiffany Murray (2010)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This was another book I picked up in Kindle's Daily Deal. I wasn't too sure about it but the music element to it persuaded me - and afterall it only cost 99p so not a huge gamble! It is about a family who run a music studio in rural Wales, that is used by a steady stream of rock stars over the years. It begins in the 1970s when the middle child, Halo or Lo-Lo befriends the young female singer from an American band that otherwise consists of seven brothers. The singer, Jenny, is heavily pregnant with Halo's gran predicting that the baby will be born there. Turns out the gran is right and for reasons I won't spoil here, baby Fred is taken in by Halo's family and grows up as their brother. The story moves from the 1970s, through their childhood and teenager years until near enough present day when they are adults.

I have mixed feelings about this book. My main issue with it was that I felt very uncomfortable with the sexualisation of a child in Fred. From birth he is described as being like Heathcliff, the older Halo has feelings for him that are sexual from an early age and he is described in a very sexual way at the age of eight. Now I don't have children myself and am from a family that is dominated by females, so I have very little experience of 8 year old boys, but it didn't sit right with me. My other gripe was Halo - who was another one of these too good to be true female characters, totally self-sacrificing for her family and seemingly so beautiful herself that people are equally obsessed with her, yet she doesn't notice it - she reminded me a bit of the 50 Shades of Grey heroine! She was by far the least interesting person in the whole story.

But just as I was considering giving up on it, I was won back over. Halo's mother suffers from depression throughout the book, but later she becomes physically ill and this is where Tiffany Murray showed herself to be an excellent writer. Her own mother, Minny, comes to visit - a tough little woman with a ascerbic tongue about the rest of the family, but so tender with her daughter that it was heartbreaking. So what was the saddest part of the book, was for me by far the best part.

Putting aside dubious relationships with foundling children and rock stars, Tiffany Murray can write about complex real family relationships. ( )
1 vote sanddancer | Jan 26, 2013 |
Diamond Star Halo.

Now where did that come from? I spotted the book, face up on a table and those words buzzed around in my head throughout the visit. What was the next line? Where did it come from?

The answer just wouldn’t come, so I picked up the book on the way out of the library to see if that would help. It didn’t, but I recalled Tiffany Murray’s first novel, Happy Accidents, which I enjoyed. I very much liked what I read on the jacket too, and so the book came home.

And once I had read it I acquired a copy of my own to keep. Yes, that good.

So what was it like?

Well, if it was a recipe it would read like this:

“Take the following ingredients:

■a large handful of I Capture the Castle
■a dash of Wuthering Heights
■a teaspoon of Cold Comfort Farm
■a teaspoon of Cider With Rosie
■a pinch of fairy dust

Mix together gently and then leave your mixture in the Welsh countryside until the 1970s. Just let it take in the air, and it will take on a new character, entirely its own.”

Yes, Diamond Star Halo is one of those books that recognises its influences, loves them, respects them, and then goes forward into completely different territory.

Halo Llewelyn lives at RockFarm, a recording studio set in the Welsh countryside.

” For the first two years of my life I was “Baby” then mum decided on “Halo”. “Diamond Star Halo to be exact, because she loved Marc Bolan and T Rex, and because I learned to walk to “Get It On” and Mum said I was dirty sweet and I was her girl.”

Aha!

Halo’s mother was the heart of her family, a homemaker in the best sense of the word. And her father was a music producer, explaining where they lived.

Then there was her cross-dressing brother Vince and her little sister Molly, who was in quite a hurry to be grown up. And Nana, a countrywoman with a saying and an answer for everything.

Halo really does bring her family and their world to life. There’s a wonderful mix of the magical and the humdrum!

You really can’t help but love them all. Halo especially.

In the summer an American band, Tequila, arrives at the studio. Halo is captivated by Jennie, their heavily pregnant singer. Jennie warms to the child too, and a lovely bond develops between them.

But suddenly everything changes. Jennie’s child is born at the height of the summer, and then Jennie dies. Tequila leave, but baby Fred stay behind to grow up at RockFarm.

And he grows up to be a rock star, just like his Mum …

There is a special bond between Halo and Fred. But is he her brother? Or is he something else?

And that’s as much as I’m going to say. This is one of those stories that has to unwind gently and draw you in as you read.

There’s a wonderful mix of so many characters, so many emotions, and Tiffany Murray handles them all beautifully.

Light and dark are perfectly balanced.

And this is a story packed full of lovely details. Much whimsy and much music.

Held together by a family, and by love.

What more could you ask for? ( )
  FleurinherWorld | Apr 22, 2011 |
'Diamond Star Halo', for me, is a hardcore treasure of a book - lyrical, evocative, heartfelt & witty. Whilst marginalised by some as self-indulgent, to do so is to overlook it's true beauty, derived from the sympathetic, & often irreverent, autobiographical retelling of the Llewellyn's many lives, past & present.

The draw of this book remains it's 'heart' - the mysticism, the music, the raw honesty of remembering those no longer with us with humour & pathos, & of accepting our nearest & dearest exactly as they are, regardless of foibles. Or, indeed, inexplicable cake obsessions.

I fell in love with the passion inherent in music & 'fahmlee' all over again.

Tiffany Murray, you total rock star, kudos.

Off now to get me a copy of 'Happy Accidents', feed this new addiction. ( )
  kitsunehendrix | Sep 28, 2010 |
Gah. I hate books like this, family sagas where everyone is beautiful and wonderful in one way or another and extraordinary things happen to everyone, and I hate the endings they have as well (won't give it away though). They're always written by women authors too for some reason. That said, I read it and polished it off in no time at all, because Tiffany Murray knows a thing or two about plotting, structure and fine prose. So I gave it three and half stars, although I feel kind of like I've been somehow violated by her formidable writing ability, which compelled me to temporarily feel all mushy inside over a load of nonsense. If you do like golden-hearted family sagas with twinkly elements of magic realism, and you ever fancied a rock star, you will probably cream yourself over this book. My feelings about it are extremely ambiguous.

I bloody wish I'd never had to grow up anywhere near Rockfield Studios n'all, which I did. Sodding rock stars. Their glamour repels and attracts simultaneously, a dynamic which is probably also at work in this twee but talentful book. Gah. Again. Do it again without the magic realism, Murray. Do it without the fairy tales next time. Now that would be a worthwhile grown-up job. Respec'. ( )
  Quickpint | Aug 18, 2010 |
On Amazon the Guardian calls this author 'the glam rock Dodie Smith' (and although the book isn't about glam rock) I thoroughly see the Smith reference. I Capture the Castle is one of my favourite books, and now so is Diamond Star Halo. The story of the Llewelyn family and their mud-bound farm/recording studio spans 30 years. Yes, there is a rock and roll star or two, but really this is a family saga, a love story, an expose of the human condition. It's a beautiful one, beautifully written. It was short listed for the Wodehouse Bollinger Award. ( )
  loveread | Jun 19, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
In lesser hands, Murray's ensemble of eccentrics might have grown tiresome. It's testament to her talents that she has transformed this material into something more substantial. Thanks to Halo's presence, a tender coming-of-age story captures the ordinary pangs of growing up in unusual circumstances. The one enchantment that Halo can't wake up from is her attraction to Fred, the "cuckoo- brother" destined to break the heart of every girl, including her.
 
Murray's most heartfelt writing occurs when the fantasy is broken: there's an impressively tender treatment of the disorientation the family experiences when mother Dolly succumbs to cancer. But it mostly fizzes with the impressionistic sensations of Halo, whose first gig is Ziggy Stardust's farewell concert at Hammersmith Odeon and whose first kiss occurs in a polythene tunnel to the cracking sound of her gran's rhubarb. If Murray's debut was a psychedelic nod towards Stella Gibbons, in this one she proves herself the glam-rock Dodie Smith.
 
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"Halo Llewelyn's prayers begin, Dear God and Otis Redding, because she lives at Rockfarm, a rural recording studio where the sound of tractors and Stratocasters battle. One midsummer night an American band called Tequila arrives in a beautiful silver bus, and when they and that summer are gone, they leave behind an equally beautiful baby boy; they leave Fred. Fred is everybody's favourite, a golden child, and Halo adores him. By seventeen his ambition has propelled him out into the word and into the stardom that was always his destiny. Yet up on stage, being screamed at by hundred of teenage girls and boys, Fred will always turn his spotlight on Halo in the crowd. That's the problem with falling in love with your charismatic almost-brother: it can never be a secret. In the end, the whole world has to know. A seductive story of fate, magic, and rock 'n' roll, "Diamond Star Halo" shows what happens when a family and a farm become the breeding ground for fame." Back cover.… (more)

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