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‘The Stars Shine Down’ by Sidney Sheldon – A Review

Sidney Sheldon is no stranger to the art of skillfully weaving webs of plot twists to entangle his naive readers. ‘The Stars Shine Down’ is no exception to this falling victim to the devious ways of his literary genius. Written twenty-five years ago, this novel brought to light the hassles women endure in the corporate world. What is tragic about reading it in the present day is realizing the fact that nothing has changed.

Lara Cameron, the protagonist, has to work multitudes harder simply to earn the same amount of respect as her male counterparts. For having the fortitude to step into a male-dominated industry, she gets subjected to countless instances of sexual harassment. In time, she grows resilient towards it and takes a stand for herself. Like many young entrepreneurs before her, Lara entered the industry of putting up buildings with the intention of becoming an overnight tycoon. There were many who tried capitalizing on her eagerness to succeed when she was just beginning. She was offered contracts with unimaginable bounty. Her end of the deal was something no amount of money could ever compensate for – a night in a motel room. At the end of all this, she still found herself on the brink of being conned for millions.

However, Lara was someone who had always been pure at heart and was not let down by those whose lives she had touched. They became her saving grace at times when all hope was lost –  the industrious CEO she would eventually become seemed like a pipe dream. We watch her ascend to a position of firing at whim any subordinate who dared make uninvited advances on her. She storms with her head held high out of banks who tell her this business was no place for a woman – for finding investors was no longer an issue.

Interactions between characters here provide the insight that people divulge only as much about themselves as they want to. It matters not how close they may even consider the other person to be. On her first date with the man Lara eventually marries, she inquires about the love he has for his career. He lies through his teeth, telling her it’s been something he has adored doing since he was a child. Even after they are wed, never does she find out that he’d wanted to quit several times. Each time, his pleas were dismissed by his parents. He did grow to love it, but that was for the recognition his talent gave him – not the skill itself.

If there is one aspect this novel is found lacking in, it is a description. Sheldon has chosen to simply use real-world names of locations in lieu of making the effort to paint a mental picture with his words. This robs the reader of being able to visualize the setting through his eyes. There are those who read books for an escape from the real world – to be whisked away to another land. Through the course of the story, we are taken to places ranging from Nova Scotia to Chicago, even Venice. If Sheldon so chose, he could have described the sights, smells, and sounds of these places in a manner that even physically witnessing them could not accomplish. His ability to draw tangents at an ethereal level can be clearly seen when he compares an intimate moment to a turbulent storm.

Though the story might get a little monotonous towards the middle, the adrenaline rush of the finale entirely makes up for it. In addition to moments of suspense that accelerate your pulse and give you shortness of breath, this is a page-turner for another reason. Several instances of dialogue between characters go into sleep-inducing depths on matters such as the financial aspects of constructing a building. He even manages to make something as eloquent and exquisite as classical music sound drab with a barrage of music theory terms in Italian. Skipping through these dialogues makes the story elapse much faster, albeit at the expense of leaving the reader wishing for more meaningful conversation.

In conclusion, Sheldon has come up with yet another masterpiece in ‘The Stars Shine Down’. If anything, it leaves the reader with a sense of motivation. Watching Lara regain her composure each time the tribulations of life knock the wind out of her sails instils a sense of self-confidence in the reader as well. Her perseverant attitude in the face of endless ridicule until she commanded reverence from the very same people serves as a lesson to us all. Never allow anyone to treat you worse than you deserve.