Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Life and Death of Sophie Stark” as Want to Read:
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  5,037 ratings  ·  741 reviews
Gripping and provocative, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark tells a story of fame, love, and legacy through the propulsive rise of an iconoclastic artist.

“It’s hard for me to talk about love. I think movies are the way I do that,” says Sophie Stark, a visionary and unapologetic filmmaker. She uses stories from the lives of those around her—her obsession, her girlfriend, a
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Blue Rider Press (first published March 19th 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,037 ratings  ·  741 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Life and Death of Sophie Stark
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
"I thought making movies would make me more like other people," said Sophie. "But sometimes I think it just makes me even more like me."

man, i just loved this book. it reminded me of my favorite robert coover novel - John's Wife, or the structural underpinnings of twin peaks in that all of the action revolves around a central character, in this case sophie stark, who is both charismatic and enigmatic, and never given a voice in her own story except through the filter of others. the narrative is
Man, what a writer! North conducts an off-beat symphony about an enigmatic filmmaker named Sophie. Sophie’s friends (victims?) comprise the chorus, and they alternate chapters to tell about their dramatic relationship with Sophie. I was glued to the performance. Only a brilliant writer could make me feel sorry for a sociopathic mind-fucker. Or IS that what she is? A part of me thinks that Sophie is the real victim here. Others become obsessed with her, try to devour her, make too many demands on ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, art, nyc, brooklyn, art-world
4.75 Starry Starry Stars

Starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the
Darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land.
And now I understand what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen
They did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now.”

Don McLean “Vincent”

The Life and Death of Soph
Debbie "DJ"
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Okay, I confess, I thought this was a thriller! Had I bothered to read the book description, i would have missed out on this extraordinary read! I'm not one who thinks much about cinematography or the artistry involved, maybe my brain just leans the other way. BUT THIS BOOK! It tugged at me and before I knew it I was deep inside it's world. It's really much more of a character study, all told from the other characters point of view.

Sophie is what most co
Angela M
Dec 22, 2014 rated it liked it

I'm just not sure how I feel about this book , and I guess that's a plus because my ambivalence reflects how thought provoking it is . Is Sophie Stark , the filmmaker , a genius or an opportunist hurting the people closest to her along the way to her fame or is she a vulnerable, even fragile young woman who bears the scars of bullying and never belonging? Maybe all of these .

What we know about Sophie , we learn from the narratives of others - her lover Allison, her brother Robbie, her husband J
"The Life and Death of Sophie Stark" is a strange but fascinating novel. This book tells how Sophie Stark, an emotionally aloof Indie filmmaker manipulates the people who love her the most, including her ex-girlfriend, her brother, her husband, and many more. What makes this book so different is even though the main subject is Sophie Stark - you never hear her point-of-view. Each chapter introduces a different character, (some of the people I mentioned above) and they begin to tell how Sophie im ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Fearless claws into you with freshness and truth. This novel exposes the inner workings of the way people think about how they live, what they want, and what they believe.

Sophie and the other characters each live with emotional scars . The stories of each of these characters, richly interwoven, alternating narrators, slowly come together with haunting grace.

The author, Anna North, has created something very original here...(exquisitely written)
Leaving me to question....
Was Sophie's choic
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
Extraordinary tale about a small indie filmmaker, Sophie Stark, told by a handful of the people who came closest to knowing her. A misfit in school and college, she comes off as just plain weird. As an adult, she is an irregular weave - obsessed, tortured, and damaged, but with occasional flashes of brilliance with her odd movies. Any dealings you have with her will be strictly on her own terms. Sophie put me in the mind of a feral cat in that way, but one without the basic instinct of self-pres ...more
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me access to an advance copy of this book. Since I had never heard of North before, it was an unexpectedly good read and very hard to put down. The concept is very clever and works well. Sophie Stark is a film maker with a very unusual personality who has been willing on more than one occasion to sacrifice relationships for the sake of her movies. She is ambiguously portrayed as either very cold or unusually insightful. Her story is told from t ...more
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Despite raves from a few GR friends, I wasn't looking forward at all to reading this. Not because of the subject matter, but because a blurb bit (..the propulsive rise of an iconoclastic (movie maker)) reminded me too much of one of my biggest fiction disappointments in the last few years, Marisha Pessl's Night Film. Apologies to fans of that book, but I just could not fathom its appeal. Fortunately, Anna North is no Marisha Pessl, and Sophie Stark is no Stanislaus Cordova.

The title The Life a
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
I was really eager to read this much talked about book and knew I was on to a winner very early in the book. The writing is just sublime and this character-driven novel really is something special. This is not a fast-paced book full of thrills or anything, it's a book about people, love, choices, careers, mistakes, regrets and so much more. The strength of the novel really does lie in the characters and very much the dialogue in my opinion.

Sophie Stark does not fit in at high school, she stands
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2015
This book is a well done and unusual character study. You come to know Sophie Stark through the stories told by Sophie's brother, lover, husband and other people who have been players in her life. You never hear directly from Sophie herself.

It seemed to me that Sophie was an extremely bright person somewhere on the autistic spectrum and her behavior and betrayals were not necessarily malicious but were driven organically by her disorder. That's my take, anyway. I didn't like or dislike her; I ju
Jennifer Masterson
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"The Life and Death of Sophie Stark" was astonishingly good! Ann North is an incredible writer! I was so impressed with this book. Sophie is a filmmaker/genius/savant and her story is told through the eyes of the people who were most touched by her, but not always in a good way. Sophie used those around her to make her films the way she wanted. I found her manipulative behavior to be disgusting at times but other times I felt myself feeling very sorry for her. Twice she used people just because ...more
Larry H
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"I thought making movies would make me more like other people. But sometimes I think it just makes me even more like me."

Anna North's fascinating, thought-provoking The Life and Death of Sophie Stark looks at the rise and ultimate fall (no surprise, given the book's title) of a young film director whose work causes people to marvel even while they're feeling unsettled or uncomfortable, told by a chorus of the people who perhaps knew her best.

Sophie Stark gets her start when she decides to fi
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of character-driven narrative
I finished this book some time ago and I’ve struggled with what to write, how do I review a book that defies a simple explanation? To say I was completely absorbed is an understatement, to tell you that Sophie haunts me seems clichéd, though true. So I’m giving it the full five because the author deserves it for her gripping narrative structure, the questions she poses about the unknowability of creative genius, how we see others, ourselves, our assumptions, this is multi-layered literature at i ...more
Truly an excellent book, so well paced and subtle and skillfully executed, unfolding gradually with great imagination and vision.

A misfit girl from Iowa, Emily, creates or recreates herself, or perhaps realizes herself, in the persona of Sophie Stark, an indie filmmaker who gains recognition for her cult films while still remaining an enigmatic figure herself. On a larger scale, the mystery of Sophie is also the mystery of how we create and consume art, and how this process transforms creator, c
Rachel Aranda
3.25 stars

The main questions the characters in this book try to answer is Who is Sophie Stark? and What is she thinking? To most, who didn't know her, she was a semi-successful and talented indie film director with a unique way of viewing the world. To colleagues and acquaintances, she was a socially awkward, driven and gifted individual with a reputation for being abrupt and difficult to work with and understand. But to the handful of people who knew her best, she was so much more. Six of them
Holly Shit! What a novel!

Who’s this author?


What a bloody original, simple yet complex novel! It was so unexpectedly good, actually, Great! I’m just blown away by it.

I’ll have to do some digging, because I’m very interested in finding out more about the creative process and inspiration behind “The Life and Death of Sophie Stark”.

I’m even more annoyed than usual with my limited writing skills, but I’ll do my best to articulate what I felt about this novel. It would probably be best if I let
“It’s hard for me to talk about love. I think movies are the way I do that.”
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is a perfectly pleasant read, if one can really say that about a book that centres around something of a sociopath…
“I think I’m like one of those crabs, where it builds itself out of parts of other animals.”
Sophie Stark is a visionary and unapologetic filmmaker. She uses stories from the lives of those around her—the boy she was obsessed with in college, her girlfriend, and her husband—

A-Z and PopSugar Challenge with Karly and Jess

A book with antonyms in the title - The Life and Death of Sophie Stark
N = North, Anna

4 stars

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is exactly about what the title infers. I really wasn’t sure what to expect out of this one, but I found the synopsis and cover intriguing and Karen highly approved of it. Sophie Stark is somewhat of an enigma, she has a hard time relating to those around her, was often treated as an outcast by her schoolmates, dresses unique
When I first heard about this book, it had very little in the way of a description: just a couple of lines referring to how it 'tells a story of fame, love, and legacy through the propulsive rise of an iconoclastic artist', using a 'chorus of voices'. That was enough to pique my interest. But the character of Sophie Stark is a young film director, so it's less like Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World than I'd initially assumed.

That 'chorus of voices' is created by six narrators who take it in
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
The twisty, clever story of a doomed filmmaker – perfect for fans of Hausfrau. Who is Sophie Stark? A New York City-based indie director whose four documentary-style movies are “almost more like life than life itself.” Bisexual and with certain traits of high-functioning autism, Sophie is easily misunderstood. She’s a rebel who doesn’t conform to social niceties. The book is told through five first-person reminiscences from the people closest to her. In this respect the novel’s format recalls Ki ...more
Liz Barnsley
Firstly I would like to say about “The Life and Death of Sophie Stark” that not only is it one of my favourite books that I have read this year, but it has also gone immediately onto my favourite books of all time list. So there is that.

I was not sure about it originally – but the thing with this novel is that it sucks you in with some poignant and gorgeous writing and every single character is full of depth, realism and an often ironic edge that is just simply brilliantly done.

Sophie Stark is a
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
The title of this book – The Life and Death of Sophie Stark – implies that Sophie is the main focus of this nuanced and engrossing book.

But is she? Or is the key focus really about those whose Sophie’s life has touched – her love interest, brother, husband, producer and others – and how this accomplished avant-garde filmmaker revealed them for who they really are?

I would argue that the latter interpretation makes the most sense, and here, to me, lies the brilliance of the book. We learn about S
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the story of an enigmatic film maker, told through the eyes of those who knew her best – from her brother, Robbie, to her ex-husband, Jacob, her lover – and star of an early film – Allison and even Daniel, the unwilling subject of her very first foray into film. Sophie Stark herself, originally called Emily Buckley, only comes alive through other people’s views of her. Was she a compulsive, gifted eccentric; whose need to create great art was worth more to her than how she was viewed by ...more
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I considered giving this a 5 star. Before approximately the 66% level, I might have. The young Emily/Sophie was drawn to her own STARK perception and reaction quite well. Using a natural chronological order but different narrators was a form that was excellent to dissection of that particular condition of young Emily too. Not being a fan of the flip back and forth time period so currently used, or duo locale here and there, or opposing narrators- this particular method using the chronological pr ...more
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This was an interesting read, but I didn’t fall in love with it.

I connected more with Allison than I did the main character, Sophie Stark, so although I was really getting into it at the beginning, my connection abruptly ended when the story shifted from Allison to a variety of other characters connected to Sophie. I did read it to the end, and also enjoyed the focus on Daniel, but never really got back into it the way I did at the very beginning, which is a shame.

I would like to thank the publ
Chris Blocker
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sa-barer
Sophie Stark is the complex unlikable character at the center of The Life and Death of.... She's the focus of the novel, yet her voice is never heard. She's never given the chance to tell her own story. Yet through the eyes of others the reader gets a sense of who Sophie Stark is and that image is perhaps more telling that than if Sophie herself told the story. It's through these voices, these implications that Sophie is a real bitch, that the reader begins to see Sophie as the persecuted as wel ...more
Margaret Madden
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Sophie Stark is unusual. From childhood she spent most of her time alone, or in her brother's company and was always on the edge of her peer circle. When she moved off to college, her life took a curious turn. She became interested in directing movies and required little or no assistance. Through the eyes of six different characters, the reader begins to unravel the intense personality of Sophie Stark, and gets a glimpse into the troubled mind of a young woman on the permanent edge of sanity...

[ 3.5 stars ]

Definitely enjoyed this one less the second time around, but this is still a really fascinating book and portrait of a young, female artist.
This is probably the most intriguing book I’ve discovered through NetGalley so far.
It took me a couple of pages to be interested in it and I felt like this since the ending, which, to be completely honest, was not that original and new like I was expecting it to be.
The peculiarity
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
  • Best Laid Plans
  • So Lucky
  • One In Three
  • The Cherry Sundae Company (Sandstone Vista Series)
  • Génie la loca
  • she felt like feeling nothing
  • The Body Double
  • First Cut (Jessie Teska, #1)
  • Clasp
  • This Is Pleasure: A Story
  • Late to the Party
  • And Again
  • Agua por todas partes: Vivir y escribir en Cuba (Volumen independiente)
  • Tears of the Moon
  • De repente, la libertad
  • Aprendizaje emocionante: Neurociencia para el aula
  • El país de las ranas
See similar books…
Anna North is a novelist and journalist. She is the author of the novels America Pacifica (2011), The Life and Death of Sophie Stark (2015), and Outlawed (forthcoming with Bloomsbury, January 2021). She has been a writer and editor at Jezebel, BuzzFeed, Salon, and the New York Times, and is now a senior reporter at Vox.

Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

News & Interviews

From independent presses, to tales in translation, to critical darlings and new debut novels, these books (all published in the U.S. this year)...
20 likes · 3 comments
“When I moved, the broker had told me there was something good for the brain about living near the sea, something about ions. But I often felt like the water was insulting me, like, "I'm beautiful and endless—what are you doing with your life?” 8 likes
“Maybe that was how you had to live, eventually—just let things be and never ask yourself if they were what you really wanted.” 3 likes
More quotes…