In her debut novel, The Promise of Stardust, Priscille Sibley breaks almost every rule I was taught as a new fiction writer. Yet, her novel is receiving positive reviews coast to coast.
The Promise of Stardust is about much more than the struggle of protagonist Dr. Matt Beauliu trying to keep his wife Elle, on life support long enough for their child to be delivered.
We learn in back-story that Dr. Beauliu’s wife was an accomplished individual. She’s a former astronaut, ran marathons and was a college professor. She wanted nothing more than to have a healthy baby. Elle had multiple miscarriages and one stillbirth.
The novel opens with Elle having already fallen from a ladder and sustaining a severe head injury. She’s rushed to the hospital where her husband, an accomplished neurosurgeon, is on staff. Matt’s medical practice partner must perform the surgery Elle needs to live but the prognosis is poor.
Elle is left in a vegetative state. Elle had watched her mother die a slow, painful death hooked up to life support equipment during the final stages of cancer. It’s well known that Elle doesn’t want to be kept alive on life support.
Just as Matt is preparing himself to have the life support discontinued, he learns Elle is pregnant. Perhaps that’s what she’d wanted to tell him the night before when he’d been in such a hurry to get back to the hospital.
There’s an immediate shift in dynamics in the storytelling. Matt wants the baby. He believes he needs the baby to survive but that means keeping his wife alive.
What would Elle have wanted if she had known she was pregnant and needed to be kept on life support for the child to be delivered?
The Promise of Stardust utilizes back-story to fill in the relationships of Matt and Elle including the extended families and outside relationships they each had. The scenario provides the reader with more rounded characters.
The time-line moves from the past and then slips into flashback numerous times. I enjoyed this aspect of the storytelling and didn’t lose track of the characters or where they were in time. It provided a rich story with an abundance of texture.
The Promise of Stardust is the perfect book club pick. Great discussions are promised. The novel addresses both right-to-die and anti-abortion issues head on. There are also interpersonal topics to explore.