If I ever want an easy, enjoyable read I will invariably turn to Marian Keyes, and on the whole ‘The Brightest Star in the Sky’ didn’t disappoint. Much like her book ‘Rachel’s Holiday’, though, ‘Brightest Star’ at its heart deals with some heavy and uncomfortable issues in a sensitive and appropriate manner, making us sit a little straighter and look harder for the brightness in the dark.
The narrative ‘star’ is a cute idea, although for me the changing type fonts every now and then weren’t necessary, as the star is pretty easy to follow throughout. Following the lives of the residents of Star Street, it’s looking for a home and needs to find the right heartbeat to know where to roost.
The characters are interesting and, considering there’s so many of them, believably fleshed out. My favourites had to be Matt and Maeve, despite how utterly heartbreaking I found their real story (no spoilers) – they’re the rollercoaster of Star Street and will move you from laughter to tears in the blink of an eye.
It was a decent range of characters as well; just-turned-40 Katie, making-ends-meet Lydia, deeply unsatisfied Andrei, bizarre and kooky elderly psychic Jemima…The list alone keeps you on your toes, and allows for all those deliciously frustrating mini-cliffhangers throughout ‘Brightest Star’ that will keep you turning the page long after you thought you’d pop your book down and get some sleep.
There was one teeny, tiny, wee issue right at the very end for me: we learn through Maeve’s story that the world can be cruel and unjust, and that’s the sad reality we live in. No superheroes, no white knights, not always a happy ending. So Maeve’s ex-boyfriend Dave’s comeuppance rankled me. I hasten to add I definitely wanted him to be punished for his crimes, but we see the statistics and attitudes every day: the likelihood of this happening conventionally was sadly slim. So whilst satisfying in one sense to see him meet his supernatural justice, it also undermined the message from Maeve’s final chapters: that the system still struggles to identify victims and perpetrators, and that we still let people down when it comes to such atrocious crimes. It was too unreal for me, even despite the idea of the future lifeform being a narrator as the central concept of the book.
However, in true form ‘The Brightest Star’ is a Keyes masterpiece of humour, gritty reality and a rollercoaster of emotions – and one that I would recommend to keep you company until the long nights have drawn away.