A transporting love story of music, stardom, heartbreak, and a gifted young singer-songwriter who must find her own voice - "pure sun-soaked summer fun" (Kate Quinn, bestselling author of The Alice Network).
The year is 1969, and the Bayleen Island Folk Fest is abuzz with one name: Jesse Reid. Tall and soft-spoken, with eyes blue as stone-washed denim, Jesse Reid's intricate guitar riffs and supple baritone are poised to tip from fame to legend with this one headlining performance. That is, until his motorcycle crashes on the way to the show.
Jane Quinn is a Bayleen Island local whose music flows as naturally as her long blond hair. When she and her bandmates are asked to play in Jesse Reid's place at the festival, it almost doesn't seem real. But Jane plants her bare feet on the Main Stage and delivers the performance of a lifetime, stopping Jesse's disappointed fans in their tracks: A star is born.
Jesse stays on the island to recover from his near-fatal accident and he strikes up a friendship with Jane, coaching her through the production of her first record. As Jane contends with the music industry's sexism, Jesse becomes her advocate, and what starts as a shared calling soon becomes a passionate love affair. On tour with Jesse, Jane is so captivated by the giant stadiums, the late nights, the wild parties, and the media attention, that she is blind-sided when she stumbles on the dark secret beneath Jesse's music. With nowhere to turn, Jane must reckon with the shadows of her own past; what follows is the birth of one of most iconic albums of all time.
Shot through with the lyrics, the icons, the lore, the adrenaline of the early 70s music scene, Songs in Ursa Major pulses with romantic longing and asks the question so many female artists must face: What are we willing to sacrifice for our dreams?
"Inspired by Joni Mitchell and James Taylor's romance and creative collaboration, this alluring debut has an Almost Famous vibe as it explores the gritty--and sometimes chauvinistic--side of the music industry." - People
"In the vein of Daisy Jones and the Six and The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, Songs In Ursa Major is an intoxicating chronicle of the music industry, inspired largely by the love affair between artists Joni Mitchell and James Taylor." - Elle
"A delightfully engaging novel about music and chasing after your dreams... Brodie plays all the right chords in her debut... we could all use a bit of carefree fun as temperatures warm up this year. So whether you're not quite ready to rip off your mask and go sway in the middle of a festival crowd, or you just need a break from all your post-vaccination celebrations, Songs in Ursa Major is a great opening act to the summer." - Cory Oldweiler, The Boston Globe
"Brodie works with big themes -- individuation, mental illness, legacy, self-destruction and redemption -- but her touch is lighter than an onshore breeze. Little surprise that Village Roadshow has scooped the novel up for development as a movie... You can tell when a novelist truly loves her heroes and despises her villains... Ursa Major is plotted so tightly, its characters so vividly rendered, that you barely notice the author's thumb on the scale." - Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times
"Emma Brodie's debut lilts easily between the power chords of a rock anthem and the soulful nostalgia of a blues ballad, evoking the seventies rock scene through two compelling protagonists: Jesse Reid, charismatic rock star on the rise, and Jane Quinn, electrically gifted songstress struggling to get her foot on the ladder of the music world. Their passion for each other, for performing, and above all for their music makes for splashy, engrossing reading. Songs in Ursa Major is pure sun-soaked summer fun." - Kate Quinn, bestselling author of The Alice Network
"Entrancing... This superbly crafted debut novel immerses readers in a story of family, love, and music from the first page. Brodie makes a point about the destructive force of drug abuse, and bears witness to unsavory business practices in the music industry. This book would make a wonderful movie; readers will long for an album of Jane's songs to go with it." - Library Journal, starred
"Inspired by the folk rock scene of the late 1960s and '70s, Brodie's debut novel follows Jane Quinn, an ethereal and talented musician, as she navigates love, loss, and stardom... Brodie thoughtfully probes the different ways men and women were treated in the music industry: the men coddled and protected in the face of their faults while the women (especially rule breakers like Jane) were taken advantage of, undercut, and vilified... Brodie's writing--about music, family, and grief--elevates the novel. An enjoyable debut that will appeal to fans of this iconic era." - Kirkus
"Moving from New York to Los Angeles to Greece to the Grammys... Brodie's debut is a furious page turner, meditating on the glittering beast of fame." - Booklist
"In this spirited and fearless debut, Emma Brodie gets right to the heart of the matter: what--and who--will we sacrifice for art? Who has power over the stories we tell? What secrets will we keep for the people who love us? Like a perfect summer song, Songs in Ursa Major breathes new life into a familiar tune and will work its way into your heart and not let go." - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest and Good Company