The story behind All The Stars We Follow
You may be wondering what All The Stars We Follow is about? A blurb after all doesn’t tell you much about the themes or the book itself after all.
So here are a few questions I was asked about it recently and here are my answers.
What is the book about?
All The Stars We Follow tells the story of three people as they meet in the beautiful town of Uzès in Provence on a scorching summer. Léa, my heroine, is 40 and has just come back to France after spending twenty years in London because of a bad break-up. At least that’s the reason she gives. She has got little money and agrees reluctantly to give French lessons to a British teenager, Max.
Max as we soon discover is very shy and went through a traumatic event a few years before. To add insult to injury, he has a really difficult relationship with his demanding father and hate his dad’s latest girlfriend, the highly ambitious Freya.
Mark, his father, is at a crossroad even if he doesn’t know it yet when we meet him. He has been suppressing all feelings since the death of his wife and living in a bubble of his own that is not healthy for him or his sons. But is he ready to change his ways? His meeting with Léa will be key, but the road won’t be smooth. Will their growing relationship survive their differences in the end?
What are the themes?
One of the key themes is about taking risks. It’s what Léa tells Mark when they have dinner together for the first time in her courtyard where she says that sometimes you need to jump and see what happens when you are stuck in your life. I believe that’s true for all of us. We often fight against change when we should embrace it and most of us are risk averse. For Léa, the end of her relationship was only the emerged tip of the iceberg, her own unhappiness with where she was at in life was in fact the real cause but it was less clear cut so she could hide from it, pretend that things will get better. The end of her relationship showed her she needed a break from it all. I’m a great believer in taking the road less travelled, even if it’s the tougher one to follow, and I think that’s what Léa does and she shows the way to Mark.
The other important theme of the book is the way we communicate with each other, all these things we don’t say for fear of being misunderstood or hurting someone else or because we think the other can see it. That is what Monsieur de Daujac says to Léa when he talks about the difficulties he had in his own marriage. He can see that this is where Mark and Léa are at and that Léa’s worries come from her fears of the two of them being worlds apart. We see that theme played again and again between Mark and Léa, but also for example between Léa and her mother.
The final theme central to the story is love of course. But love in all its forms. There is the love story developing between Mark and Léa, obviously, but there is also the love Max has for his mother and for Léa. It’s not the same and yet it’s just as strong to him. There is also the love between brother and sister (Mark and Caroline) and friendship (the developing friendship between Léa and Luca). All these forms of love impact our lives and I really enjoyed exploring them. Relationships between people fascinate me.
What does the title mean?
The title is a metaphor on all the paths we follow in our lives. Some are clearly defined, others less so. Sometimes our paths are straight for years and then we get to a crossroad and have to decide where we go next.
It is also a metaphor on the people that touch our lives. Max for example is looking for a new mother to look after him, even if he doesn’t know that at the beginning. Léa becomes his beacon of hope, the star he has to follow to be happy again.
Where did the inspiration come from?
When I started writing I was convinced ideas came from the ether or something, but that’s not true. Creative ideas come from what we know, so there are parts of the book that are inspired with what I went through minus the end of a relationship! Just like Léa, though, I experienced a growing dissatisfaction with my life at one point which spurred me on to take action and change.
And like her, I spent twenty years of my professional life in London before moving back to France a few years back. But the rest is pure fiction!