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Songs in Ursa Major – the early 70s music scene comes alive in this impressive debut novel.

Travel back to the time of the emergence of the folk rock singer/songwriter. Hometown hero and new megastar Jesse Reid is set to headline at the annual Folk Music Festival on Bayleen Island, off the coast of Massachusetts (think Martha’s Vineyard). After Jesse is in a motorcycle accident, a local band, The Breakers, is called in to fill his spot. The crowd is disappointed until they hear the voice of its 19 year old lead singer Jane Quinn. After wowing the crowd, Jane and The Breakers are signed by Jesse’s manager and a whirlwind begins. An album is made, the band tours with Jesse and a romance begins. Jane falls hard for Jesse but realizes he is battling demons. Jane, too, has her own. We get to follow Jane’s journey including the creation of her masterpiece album, Songs in Ursa Major, complete with song titles and some very appealing lyrics.


If you are a fan of the music of the late 1960s/early 70s, you will thoroughly enjoy Songs in Ursa Major. It is an outstanding story of an incredibly creative time in music. While inspired by the love affair between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, this is not a biography of these talented performers. I even hesitate to mention it as the tale of Jane and Jesse should be viewed as its own love story which takes us from the East Coast to Laurel Canyon, California and the legendary Troubadour in West Hollywood.


Author Emma Brodie, in an impressive debut, does a fine job in presenting the music business during this era, revealing how women were treated quite differently than their male counterparts. Jane is such a wonderful character – she is a true talent and doesn’t conform to what is expected of her. Well, I guess that is pretty similar to Joni Mitchell.


Many thanks to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read Songs in Ursa Major in advance of its publication. I was excited to read that the rights to the book have been acquired to be adapted into a feature film.


Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Contemporary Historical Fiction.

Publication Date: June 22, 2021.


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