Author: Simon Van Der Velde
Genre: Literary Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 4.73
Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth? These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.
Backstories is a unique collection of stories each told from the point of view of a famous, (or notorious) person at a pivotal moment in their lives. The writing is literary but accessible and the voices vividly real. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, and the driving themes are inclusion, social justice and of course, nostalgia – but the real key to these stories is
that the protagonists’ identities are withheld. This means that your job is to find them, leading to that Eureka moment when you realise who’s mind you’ve been inhabiting for the last twenty minutes.
I’d like to thank Simon Van Der Velde for sending me the audio files of Backstories. I wasn’t sure what to expect from reading the synopsis but wow did this book blow me away!
Like most fans of crime/mystery reads I’m always happy to play detective to try and solve the whodunnit as quickly as possible so this book was definitely for me! The audio was fantastic and all the narrators did a great job of portraying the characters. The accents really helped with identifying where the story was taking place. The only downside to the audio was knowing how certain words and names were spelt when I was trying to discover who the story was about, if I’d read the book I probably would of got some of my guesses quicker. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed listening and went back for seconds to check some of my answers.
Solving the mysteries for some of the stories was quite easy, others I had to really think about. Being 30 years old some of the people were a little bit before my time however I had heard of all of them, some just needed a bit of research on my part. What I loved were the moments that Simon had chosen to highlight and how the clues were placed. Instead of going for the obvious ‘stand out’ moments he had chosen personal and pivotal moments of their lives. I very often had the ‘lightbulb’ moment on several of the tracks and was super chuffed when I’d figured them out. Some of my favourite tracks were Blank Face, All Over Now, Voiceless Child, Banjo Boy and Jive Talkin’. The entire concept was wonderfully original and beautifully executed!
I was thrilled to hear the Simon will be producing a second book, in the same style, so I have already requested to read it when it is ready. I’m also buying my dad a copy as this is definitely his type of book. I’m also going to enjoy teasing him if there are some he gets stuck on! If you love books with a twist, a puzzle to solve then this is definitely for you!
P.S. Simon is sharing 30% of all profits from Backstories with Friends of the Earth, Stop Hate UK and The North-East Autism Society. See http://www.simonvandervelde.com for further details.