Share This

Dear Thursday: THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY by Marian Keyes [Book 11 of 2010]

Toward the beginning of the year, my favorite chicklit author, Marian Keyes, posted this message on her site:

My dear amigos, happy new year to you all and I hope your festive season was not too unpleasant. I’m very sorry but this is going to be a very short piece because I am laid low with crippling depression. Regular readers know that I’ve been prone to depression on and off over the years but this is in a totally different league. This is much much worse. I know I’m leaving myself open to stinky journalists saying ‘What has she got to be depressed about, the self-indulgent whiner, when there are people out there with real troubles?’ so I won’t go on about it. 

All I will say is that I’m aware that these are terrible times and that there are people out there who have been so ruined by the current economic climate that they’ve lost the roof over their heads and every day is a battle for basic survival and I wish I could make their pain go away. But although I’m blessed enough to have a roof over my head, I still feel like I’m living in hell. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t write, I can’t read, I can’t talk to people. The worst thing is that I feel it will never end. I know lots of people don’t believe it, but depression is an illness, but unlike say, a broken leg, you don’t know when it’ll get better […]

[…] So amigos, I’m sorry to abandon you for the moment. Full service will be restored at some stage, I hope. Thank you in advance for your kindness because you’ve always been so lovely to me and once again Happy New Year. I hope it’s a nice one for you.

So yes, I immediately went online and pre-ordered the last book we might be getting from Ms. Keyes for awhile

brighteststarkeyesWhy I Decided To Read It: There are few writers that I loved before AND after I got my MFA. Most chicklit — let’s face it — is derivative, uninspiring, and often-times poorly written. Ms. Keyes always succeeds in being none of these things and also manages to weave grit, Irishness, and original situations into her beyond wonderful love stories.

What’s It About: A spirit of some kind is sent to an apartment for reasons we don’t quite understand. In this apartment building resides a professional talent wrangler, a senior citizen psychic, a young couple who for unknown reasons are both on anti-depressants,  and a caustic female taxi driver along with her male Polish immigrant roommates.

What Makes It Different: Well-written with a diverse set of characters from various countries and locales, not all of which have glamorous jobs. If you can name another chicklit novel that can claim all of that, let me know, because I want to read it!

What I Loved: This novel is wildly romantic and deeply suspenseful. I had no idea who would end up with who and how everything would play out until the very last chapters.

What I Didn’t Like: There’s one surprise villain, whose character is so very two-dimensional toward the end, that it rendered the nemesis completely unbelievable. And your characters are only as good as their nemeses.

Writing Lessons Learned:

It doesn’t matter how you tell your story as long as your plot points are clear. This story jumps around and has no discernable structure, but I never felt that Keye was rambling or being indulgent. This was a very full story told in scattered pieces.

Understand your characters and put them in great situations. So many characters (the above was only a partial list), so many situations. It’s amazing that the reader is able to follow along, but it’s totally clear thanks to the great plot points (as mentioned above). Also, Keyes took the time to really draw each character out, so that the reader felt like these were real, living breathing people.

Re-examine the usual suspects. One of the best love interests in this book was a rich, powerful, self-made business man — and he is an absolutely horrible boyfriend. It’s funny, b/c romance and chicklit is littered with this kind of character, but this is one of the few authors to point out that rich, powerful, self-made businessmen make really shitty boyfriends. There’s also a caustic taxi driver — and yes, we’ve seen that before, but this time it’s a woman. Totally new take. Love it!

To Whom Would I Recommend This Book: Writers Working On Anything Remotely Romantic, Depressed Couples, Anyone Who Wants To Travel To Ireland, and People Who Want To Read Something Both Romantic And Original.

Click on the cover pic to buy the book.