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Greatest Hits

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,051 ratings  ·  189 reviews
The new novel from the author of the number one bestseller The Versions of Us.

One day. Sixteen songs. The soundtrack of a lifetime...

Alone in her studio, Cass Wheeler is taking a journey back into her past. After a silence of ten years, the singer-songwriter is picking the sixteen tracks that have defined her - sixteen key moments in her life - for a uniquely personal Gre
Hardcover, 439 pages
Published June 15th 2017 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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Lee They were fictional. Written for the book. But they have been recorded since. Search for ''Songs from the Novel Greatest Hits'' and you'll find them. …moreThey were fictional. Written for the book. But they have been recorded since. Search for ''Songs from the Novel Greatest Hits'' and you'll find them. Sung by Kathryn Williams.(less)

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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  1,051 ratings  ·  189 reviews

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Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this a brilliant and unusual read. It is a fictional biography of the flawed life and times of the British singer and songwriter Cass Wheeler. It rings so true and authentic that it is hard to credit that it is indeed fictional. Cass had been a wildly successful musician until her sudden and abrupt departure from the music scene when tragedy struck and she suffered a breakdown. This has not prevented a host of rumours and speculation as to what exactly happened to her.

Now in the present,
Dale Harcombe
Two and a half stars.
Cass Wheeler is on a journey, a journey back to her past. After an absence of 16 years this singer songwriter chooses to pick 16 tracks from the very many she has written and recorded to define her life. These are the key moments in a very deeply personal Greatest Hits album. Over the course of these songs, which are given throughout the book, the reader gets to see the story of this woman’s life, from her childhood to her success as an artist, her love life and the losses s
Louise Wilson
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a fictional biography of the British singer and songwriter Cass Wheeler. Cass was a successful musician and then she had a breakdown. Cass Wheeler is taking a journey back into her past. After a silence of ren years, the singer - songwriter is picking sixteen tracks that have defined her. Sixteen key moments in her life - for a uniquely personal Greatest Hits album. In the course of one day the story of Cass's life emerges. The highs and lows of music, friendship, ambition, love and grea ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I really wanted to love this character driven novel. From the title, cover and blurb I expected to love this book, but sadly it was not meant to be. I think one reason may be that I recently read such a beautifully emotional book that I struggled to let go of and failed to fully throw myself into this story. I also wasn’t really that keen on Cass, so I’m sure that shaped my enjoyment of the book. My favourite character was actually her dad, so if anything I wanted to read more about him.

The way
“Silence, or something like it. An arpeggio of birdsong. The low rumble of a car. The distant diminuendo of a plane. Such are the sounds that have, over so many years, formed, for Cass, their own kind of music. The only kind that sounded right inside her head; that didn’t thud and clash there, ugly, discordant, deafening.”

Greatest Hits is the second novel by freelance arts journalist, features writer, theatre critic and author, Laura Barnett. It’s 2015, and singer-songwriter, Cass Wheeler is hes
Girl with her Head in a Book
For my full review:

Laura Barnett's debut came via The Versions of Us, telling the love story of Eva and Jim through three different possibilities.  It is hardly surprising that her follow-up is another high-concept novel.  Greatest Hits is set across the course of a single day, with the fictional singer-songwriters Cass Wheeler selecting the songs from her vast career which have been of the greatest significance within her life.  Barnett describes the sto
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Mmm… Not for the first time, I’m torn about how to review a book. This one was beautifully written. Barnett’s style is gorgeous and she’s obviously really talented when it comes to descriptive prose. However, when it comes to the plot…

I know this sounds harsh, but I just didn’t get the point of the plot: a fictional singer coping with fictional situations and life crises. Why? There’s a plethora of books written by or about real life singers coping with their real life situations and crises. Wh
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's confirmed. Laura Barnett is a storytelling virtuoso, and I feel blessed to have Greatest Hits sitting on my bookshelf. This glorious melody of words and lyrics will take you by the heart and walk you through a sublime pilgrimage to heal a soul.

The guests will be arriving soon, a network of cogs in the Cass Wheeler machine. Before she opens the doors of her home to them it is her task to make a selection of her Greatest Hits , an ensemble of the vivid memories fashioned by the years.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

I expected to enjoy this book about the life and songs of a fictional singer-songwriter, but although it began well, ultimately i started to switch off and in the last 30 pages I actually found myself skipping paragraphs to get to the end.

All the creativity (Laura Barnett is building up a track record here) appears to have gone into the structure and presentation of the book..... i really liked the use of song-lyrics to frame each chapter, and the authenticity brought by adding studio r
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this with a cuppa and put the record of the book soundtrack on!

Travel to the locations in the novel: Booktrail it to a musical place


What a lovely and unique idea for a novel - the story of your life told through song. A book of memories which conjures up the great singer song writers of their day and the songs you yourself have written. The Greatest Hits is a clever title as well as a clever idea - we all have soundtracks to our lives don't we? Songs we remember as a child - where we were
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ooooohhh!!! Good book!! The intense and multi-dimensional aspects of love and loss are so extraordinarily spun throughout this richly textured, deeply layered story; while, at the same time, bringing life and even like-ability to the deeply flawed characters. Wow!! Loved it!! Thank you Orion Publishing and NetGalley for allowing the privilege of this ARC.
May 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars. Poor man's Daisy Jones and The Six.
Cleopatra  Pullen
Every now and again a book comes along that wows you with its richness; Greatest Hits is one such novel. There can’t be many people who don’t have a soundtrack to their lives, those songs that were the background to early years, the songs we fell in love to and those that we obsessively listened to as we attempt to mend wounded hearts; for many of us there is a tune that can turn back the years to a distant time and place. Laura Barnett has taken this idea and turned it into a densely woven stor ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
When I get a third of the way through a book and I couldn't care less what happens to any of the characters then I know I'm wasting my one precious life and I have to stop and go on to the next book on my list.
Jackie Law
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
“Larry knows what it is to lose oneself for hours – days, even – in the act of creation; and to only understand, when the mind and body are finally calm once more, what it is that has been created. What, in that act, the artist is trying to make sense of, even though no sense can ever truly be made of this dizzying, maddening, impossible, beautiful life; and, of course, of its culmination, its crescendo and its inevitable loss.”

Greatest Hits, by Laura Barnett, tells the story of fictional singer
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: won-other
Singer Cass Wheeler is planning a retrospective, an album of 16 songs that she has chosen as representing the most important times of her life. As she prepares for the launch party, she looks back over her life. Her childhood with her depressed mother and much older father, the launch of her career with her lover and musical partner, fame and all the problems it brings, and a family tragedy which leads to her turning her back on not only the music industry, but music itself.

The plot is structur
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An author and a musician collaborate to tell a story. Laura Barnett, the author, embarking on that difficult second novel. Kathryn Williams, a singer songwriter, provides the songs that will unravel the life story of Cassandra Wheeler.

Cassandra Wheeler, singer songwriter, now in her sixties is coming out of retirement, after many years living as a recluse.

Cass will launch her greatest hits album with a number of new songs at a launch party, but before that she is going to sit in her studio and l
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Greatest Hits is clever, intriguing, so original and absolutely beautifully written. I do believe that I have found one of my Top Reads of 2017. This is a wonderful novel that feels so personal, so intimate and so familiar.

The story takes a circular journey, beginning early one morning as Cass Wheeler prepares for a party at her house. Cass has known fame and glory, accompanied by tragedy and sorrow throughout her life. For the past few years she's hidden herself away from the world. She's been
Lynn Brown
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought when I requested this book that the "Greatest Hits" were going to be from real life - but it turns out they are the fictional songs that Cass the main character in the book has written. There are some references made to contemporary songs and bands of the various times and so I did like those parts as it enabled me to relate to those periods of time.

Overall this book really didn't do it for me. I felt it was long at over 400 pages, drawn out and protracted. Bearing in mind this is one
Jacqueline Ward
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is my book of the year so far. I was absolutely engrossed in it and all the characters came to life for me. I already liked Versions of Us and I already admired Laura Barnett's writing, but this book is something special.
Steve lovell
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the loveliest musical purchases I made last year was the Joan Baez 75th Anniversay Tribute Concert CD. All Joan's mates/admirers came together to pay homage to the great lady by placing their own imprint on her impressive back catalogue. I remember buying her very early recordings on Vanguard when the winds of change were blowing across the US and around the world during the sixties. Soon after, I also picked up on Judy Collins. Between them they put the folk back into Peter, Paul and Mar ...more
Megan Jones
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cass Wheeler is taking a journey back into her past. After a ten year silence the singer-songwriter is making a comeback with the sixteen tracks that have defined her life. In the course of just one day, Cass's life emerges and it is a story of friendship, love, betrayal and hope. But what made Cass retreat all those years ago and can she make peace with the past?
I loved 'The Versions of Us' and it is probably one of my top five novels. Therefore this was a hard act to follow but follow it did a
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Definitely good.

Equally beautiful and sad, it lays out a life with its own unique trail of meaning. This particular life feels very heavy, making you unsure which way to turn. Do you offer advice? Do you disapprove? Is there anything you would have done differently? No, you can't do any of that. You can only listen and absorb. Which is why reading this book feels like sitting under a large winter duvet. It sinks down on you, wraps you up and, if you allow it, lets you savour and enjoy its warmt
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lovely read, it's a day when Cass prepares to put on a retrospective/revival function for her life as a successful musician. The music suddenly stopped for a reason that it will take a long time to find out. A wonderful portrayal of the world of modern music, the bands and relationships and romances that go with it, of marriage, motherhood and partners. The novel as a biography of a fictional life was interesting, reminders of William Boyd and one early Pat Barker. I found the end a bit disapp ...more
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this! I loved the fictional biography aspect of it, and that Laura Barnett actually wrote Cass' songs - I'm really keen to hear the actual tracks that were written for it. I thought all the characters felt real and authentic - like we were getting a look into the life of someone who was genuinely famous.
Laura Collins
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lots to love here. it is the story of a lifetime but also set in one day. I loved many of the characters. it's definitely a book I will return too. so sad though and I feel that I have a book hangover this morning.

I really loved the idea of the album but not the album itself - it comes across as too modern.
Barry Hammond
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fairly poetic novel about an ageing singer/songwriter looking back on her musical life and reliving what it cost her in her personal life: the shattered relationships, the death of her daughter and all the friends along the way as well as her hospitalisation and withdrawal from the world into a ten year silence. While she faces hard truths about herself it also has a hopeful note about an unexpected new relationship in her winter years and a return to a late career. Captures the music business ...more
Rosie Ellen
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I really loved this. The whole way through my only criticism was that Cass wasn't a real musician I could listen to and I've finished it to find a note that only says Laura Barnett enlisted Kathryn Williams to create THE WHOLE ACTUAL ALBUM. This is so exciting! Multi media wonderfulness. Lots of tears. Just. Great.
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 'Daisy Jones and The Six'
3.5 stars.

Greatest Hits is a highly, HIGHLY ambitious novel. It is clearly designed to be one-of-a-kind (as the author herself expresses in a Q&A at the back of this book) and it tries numerous different things to do that. First and foremost, as you will gather from reading the blurb, Greatest Hits is a novel about music. It charts the career of a fictional British folk singer called Cass Wheeler who was big in the 1970s, and every couple of chapters is preceded by the lyrics of her so-called 'g
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received this book with huge excitement - I adored Versions of Us. Easily one of my books of 2015. And then the fear set in that how could novel 2 live up to the expectations I had.

I need not have worried. Versions of Us was not a one hit wonder.

Greatest Hits is built around a loose structure of 16 tracks from a Greatest Hits album by the fictional Cass Wheeler. In the same way that Versions of Us's 3 differing versions gave us, the reader, an anchor and allowed us to navigate more easily bet
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Laura Barnett is a writer, journalist and theatre critic. She has been on staff at the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, and is now a freelance arts journalist and features writer, working for the Guardian, the Observer and Time Out, as well as several other national newspapers and magazines.

Laura was born in 1982 in south London, where she now lives with her husband. She studied Spanish and Itali

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