May 27, 2010


by Marian Keyes
480 pages, Viking

Review by Kwana Jackson

In The Brightest Star in the Sky, Marian Keyes steps into the world of mystical realism with a spirit that flows through the apartment-dwelling at 66 Star Street. It travels through walls and floorboards and hovers around spying on folks like a cosmic peeping Tom while giving narrative in a countdown to something we don’t know.

You are not quite sure why this spirit is there but it’s a good way to see into the lives of the tenants of 66 Star Street, where nothing is quite as it seems on the surface.

Marian is a huge Chick Lit writing star and in this book, she breaks away from (though I would say she always has) the Chick Lit formula (If there really is one. We can argue about that later, folks.) This is a slightly dark and offbeat tale though told with Keyes’ always-charming wit.

There are a multitude of characters that are sometimes difficult to keep straight, but I enjoyed the way they played off each other in surprising interactions. In the beginning, you are not quite sure if they were all needed, but by the end you see how everyone is connected.

Like Matt and Maeve, the seemingly-perfect married couple whose perfection hides a dark secret that you can’t place but you know is there. Could even the perfect couple be broken?

Then there is Katie, the 40-year-old publicist, and her workaholic boyfriend Conell, who has trouble committing to her as much as he does to his career. I totally enjoyed how Katie was portrayed in the book as a real woman. Which you don’t see much. She was my favorite character because to me she wasn’t a character—just real.

Next is the chip on her shoulder, 20-something taxi driver Lydia, who is constantly at war with her Polish flatmates over the upkeep of the apartment. She has secrets of her own, which when revealed show so much about her drive and spirit.

Then there is Jemima, an 88-year-old psychic, and her foster son Fionn, who comes to stay with her while filming a pilot for a TV show. Now, too-pretty Fionn causes all sorts of heart vibrations with the ladies of the building.

So the spirit travels around going from person to person checking heart currents and vibrations which would seem a little pie in the sky and dull if the currents weren’t so off and fizzled out. There is so much to learn like: why do Matt and Maeve get all dressed up in sweatsuits to go to bed? What’s up with that?

And what’s the deal with Connell getting that picture hung for Katie’s birthday? How about Lydia? Does the girl know how to wash a dish? And as for Fionn what is the deal with all the herbs in his pocket?

There is a beautiful connection to karma and spirituality that I enjoyed here. Though it was not an easy read in the beginning, I found myself turning pages quickly at the end and being pleasantly surprised, which is not something that happens often.

If you are in the mood for a good Chick Lit read that is not like any Chick Lit you ever read befor. I say give The Brightest Star in the Sky a try.

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