It’s difficult to read Songs in Ursa Major without comparing it to Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Both are set in similar time periods in the music industry, both have a doomed couple at the centre and both contain a lot of drug abuse. Emma Brodie writes in full prose rather than the interview format of Daisy Jones, but still gives the reader multiple perspectives in the story. Although the stories have similar vibes, I still enjoyed Songs in Ursa Major (I also love the title).
Star rating: 4 stars
Songs in Ursa Major follows Jane Quinn, a young woman with lots of musical talent living with her extended family. She’s been the lead singer in a band for a good while, but the band only stars to kick off once they are pulled in to replace Jesse Reid, an up and coming star, at the last minute. Circumstances bring Jesse and Jane together, and as Jane and her band’s career takes off, the two artists end up touring together. Naturally, a complicated romance evolves.
Jane’s character is interesting – she is very principled and definitely stands up for her values throughout. I really admired her confidence in such a man’s world; there are plenty of occasions where she puts her career at risk because she fought for what she wanted, not what men wanted for her. Her relationship with Jesse is tumultuous as he spirals deeper into drugs which Jane refuses to take further. I liked the friendship between Jane and her band-mates even though it is clear she is the star attraction. There are also really strong family ties throughout – especially between Jane, her aunt and her grandmother. The women have really stuck together through the years since the disappearance of Jane’s song-writer mother.
Jesse’s story is also quite tragic, also losing his mother at a young age which gives him something to bond with Jane over. With a father who can be distant, Jesse completely falls apart without his mother. Even though he is always battling with addiction, he still does kind things for Jane throughout, but at the end of the day he is a man and his career is always put first over Jane by their label and more.
Song lyrics are dispersed throughout the story – for me they didn’t add anything or take anything away from the book because without the music it’s hard to get a feel for it. I also enjoyed the insight into Jane through small chapters from other perspectives like her manager, journalists and more.
Overall this was an interesting book and I did find myself reading it in one sitting due to the addictive writing style and storyline. I really enjoy these fictional biographical stories and this one was a great read, but it really did feel like reading Daisy Jones and the Six in a different format at times.