Joseph O'Connor - The Thrill of it All (4 stars)

Tales of teenage dreams, friendship and a real love of music

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Joseph O'Connor - The Thrill of it All

It's intriguing to read an artist's well-documented life from their point of view, especially one whose career ended in controversy. Joseph O'Connor has created his own reality in Robert Goulding, the underdog of a fictional rock band called the Ships.

Now broke, divorced and living without music, Goulding details his youth and friendship with Fran Mulvey, the superstar who was bigger than his band, seeking rock'n'roll salvation. O'Connor avoids the genre's typical pitfalls: awful band names, superstardom clichés, no integration in musical history. His reference points create a colourful picture of each era, enhanced by details through cleverly placed interview snippets, press clippings and diary entries.

The Thrill of it All deals with the dark times and hard graft needed to get somewhere, not just the soaring highs of success. It's so crafted that you end up wishing they were real, and proves that fictional musicians can be written well. As it fast-forwards to the present day, showing how time changes things, it's easy for the reader to be drawn into tales of teenage dreams, friendship and a real love of music.

Published by Harvill Secker, out now.

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