book review: The Brightest Star in the Sky


Title: The Brightest Star in the Sky
Author: Marian Keyes
ISBN: 978-0670021406
Pages: 468
Publisher: Viking (January 25, 2010)
Category: contemporary fiction
Review source: Penguin Group
Rating: 4/5

One date. It wasn’t as if he was asking her to marry him. Not that Katie wanted to get married. Yes, once upon a time she’d wanted the ring and the dress and the babies—so shoot her. There were lots of things she wanted once upon a time: to be size 8; to be fluent in Italian; to hear that Brad had got back with Jennifer. None of these things had come to pass but she’d survived.

The Brightest Star in the Sky is a charming book about a spunky spirit who finds herself in a Dublin brownstone where she keeps track of the love lives of its residents. Living at 66 Star Street are: Matt and Maeve, cozy newlyweds with a challenging traumatic event in the past which both are struggling to move beyond; Katie, a busy just-turned-40 PR executive with a wealthy partner that no one really likes and some doubts of her own; then there’s Lydia, a tough cab driver with two Polish roommates simultaneously afraid of her and dramatically attracted to her; and finally there’s Jemima, a psychic, who’s retired and lives rather quietly with her dog Grudge. Marian Keyes really delves into these characters and you come to know them all so well and cheer for them to succeed in whatever they choose to make themselves happy.

I’m not sure why Keyes felt that the best narrator to the story need be some spiritual type but it works. It’s rather clever to have this opinionated spirit floating from one apartment to another. Not quite meddlesome but not remaining neutral either. While the story is being told, she adds in little quips and commentary on what she thinks about each person’s significant others or career paths.

I could relate most to Katie as we are both single and 40. Her boyfriend seems overbearing and always tied up at work [haven’t we all been in a relationship like this at least once?] and she has self doubts about the relationship and her own happiness as she just turned this seemingly monumental age. By 40, all women want to have a career we love, a significant other we love and a place to live that we love. Don’t we? Keyes recognizes this and in Kate we watch her inner struggles, turmoil and strengths unfold throughout the pages as she makes life-altering decisions to improve her position and embraces her individuality. Even Lydia, who seems abrasive at first, comes into her own once we discover she’s caring for her mom who has Alzheimer’s. Lydia is boldly independent and outspoken. She’s tough but Keyes allows her to show some vulnerability at times that makes Lydia likable. As for Matt and Maeve, they were my least favorite. I just couldn’t figure out why they were together and why Maeve was supposed to be so attractive. I couldn’t connect to her on any level.

The Brightest Star in the Sky is a long novel but moves along quickly as Keyes provides the back-story for each person and then keeps updating readers on the important goings-on. Wherever you live, you will surely find a character to which you are simpatico and that makes this a fantastic novel. Keyes possesses a spirited writing style and includes keen observations about relationships and women that makes The Brightest Star in the Sky an immensely delightful read.

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