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The Brightest Star in the Sky - Marian Keyes

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Genre: Romance / Author: Marian Keyes / Hardcover / 624 Pages / Book is published 2009-10-30 by Michael Joseph

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      11.07.2013 11:20
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      A bit wishy washy for me overall, could have done with more oomph.

      Marian Keyes is an author I have heard raved about, so when I saw one of her novels in the library, I thought it was about time to introduce myself to her work.

      The copy I was reading was a paperback, with a whopping 612 pages to the story. The size of a book is not normally a factor I look at when choosing a book as I am quite a quick reader and I can get through something this size within a few days if that way inclined. This one took me a couple of weeks as I just found it quite hard work to get into.

      The book centres around a house in Star Street, Dublin. The house is split into flats, each occupied by a different sort of person. The events are being described by some sort of presence who is whizzing around between the flats like an annoying fly.

      Firstly, we meet Katie. Approaching 40, she is in a long term relationship with workaholic Connal. Katie is a bit disillusioned with her life as Connal is always letting her down.

      We then get introduced to the residents of the other flats. Jan and Andrei are Polish migrants who share a tiny flat with cab driver Lydia. Then there is the elderly Jemima who lives with her dog Grudge. Finally, we have Matt and Maeve, a young married couple who live a slightly haunted existence.

      Events are told via the observations of this presence, starting on Day 61. It took me about 100 pages before I noticed days are counting down backwards, and events are sort of in chronological order as I didn't find it that clear. There is a lot of information about all these different characters to fill in their back stories so events from the past need to be included, but the overall effect is one that left me a bit confused and not really warming to any of the characters until I was near the end of the book.

      I felt that Keyes obviously has skill as a writer, and the descriptive work does give you a good idea of location and character, but the basis to the plot was just a bit silly for me. It stopped me enjoying the work so much because I didn't like it. Its a shame as I think there are some pretty decent characters and back stories here, but just too much crammed into one novel really. Seeing events from the point of view of a presence is very voyeuristic, and while it did give lots of depth to the characters through observing them at their most vulnerable moments, it did feel rather odd reading it. I think it is a marmite technique which readers will either love or hate, and unfortunately it was more hate for me.

      I think something that also didn't help was I watched Marian Keyes on the TV while I was in the middle of reading the book. She was on The Apprentice You're Fired show, alongside Dara O Briain. When I heard the two of them talk together in their thick Irish accents, it put voices into my head when I was reading this book and the voices were a bit too comical for the serious content of the novel. I know that is not the fault of the author, its something I did myself, but it did put me off.

      Overall, its a well written novel, the characters are likeable when you get to know them, but it takes a while as there are so many of them to get to know. I wouldn't be put off trying another book from this author, but this one was not that enjoyable for me due to reasons outlined in my review. I'd have preferred a more in depth look at fewer characters and less of the ethereal which was present throughout the book, and it wouldn't have harmed it to be half the size either to give it more oomph.

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        12.08.2012 11:16
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        You'll love it!

        This was the first book of Marian Keyes' I read, having been given it as a Christmas present one year. Ever since I have been hooked on Marian Keyes and can read her books again and again. She manages to write about real issues and painful experiences, but without making it feel heavy or depressing. She has a way of writing with such humour, and always making me fall in love with her characters. I laugh, I cry, I recommended her to anyone and everyone.

        The Brightest Star In The Sky follows the residents of 66 Star Street, from she point of view of a child hoping to be born to one of them (an interesting angle!)

        The characters include:
        .Katie, just turned forty and dating busy business man Connell.
        .Lydia, angry taxi driver living with two Polish men.
        . Jemima, an elderly lady living with her dog Grudge.
        . Maeve and Matt, a young couple whose relationship is clearly under strain.
        Other characters appear as the story progresses.

        A hugely enjoyable, emotional roller coaster with the best, most satisying ending. A book that stayed with me long after I'd finished reading it.

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          11.06.2012 17:23
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          Great book for all women!

          This book starts off like most others by Marian Keyes. She is very good at setting the scene, so much so that you can actually visualise it in your head!

          I do have to say that I wasn't as taken with this as I have been of some of her previous novels, and within a few chapters, I wasn't sure I wanted to continue, but I'm pleased that I did and by the end of the book, you have grown to love all the characters - even Lydia!

          The book covers one house, 66 Star Street and all those that live within it. It describes the comings and goings and the ghost like figure that is telling the story seems to be trying to help them. Your perception of the housemates will change throughout the book and you will laugh out loud at some places and be sad in others.

          By the time I realised I was in my last couple of chapters I was very sad. I didn't want the book to end, or the figur overlooking 66 Star Street to leave, but it had to and I finished the book.

          If you're going on holiday, this is the book to take!!!!

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            05.02.2012 14:41
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            A good enough read

            This is a review of the 2009 book 'The Brightest Star in the Sky' by Marian Keyes. An author whom I am fond of reading and have enjoyed many previous books by.

            A little about...
            In The Brightest Star in the Sky, the first character we meet is a ghost type character who haunts a particular address, looking to make a couple fall in love, but looking at 66 Star Street, there are many characters who offer great potential in this area.

            The Characters (in addition to the ghost)
            In the Basement floor flat are Maeve and Matt, newlyweds who have lost their romantic spark. Ground Floor is 88 year old Jemima, her dog Grudge and her adopted (grown up) son Fionn. Next floor is Polish boys Andrei (who has a girlfriend Rosie) and Jan and Irish Taxi driver Lydia. Finally on the top floor is Katie and her boyfriend (who doesn't live there) Conall.

            My initial thoughts
            In TBSITS, there are a lot of characters and a fair bit of chopping and changing between them romantically, to the point where I got a little confused. You are never sure who's making eyes at who and who's on their way in and who's on their way out but I suppose this is the point of the story.

            Halfway through...
            At the half way point (300 pages) I thought 'I'm not enjoying this book, it'd better get better' and yet I was at that point of no return. I wanted to get it finished so I could read another (different) book quite frankly.

            Time line
            The book begins on day 60 and counts down, with an occasional foray into the past ie. three years earlier when Matt and Maeve were getting married. This is quite clear and gives a great structure to the book and was easy to follow. You were not sure what the count down was about and what to expect when day zero arrives but it is an important part of the book.

            Favourite bits
            I do find Marian Keyes a great humourous writer and always find a few chuckles in her books. I liked Katie's character best, having had a dry spell in her relationships 'zerogamy' used to describe this. Her boyfriend Conall starts off as the most unlikeable fellow but you do find yourself warming to his charms as the book progresses, that's how talented Keyes is, she can change your mind mid way with her writing style.

            Least favourite person(s)
            The sexy gardener Fionn starts off with promise but frankly his magic pocket where he produces magic herbs and plants as a sort of psychic prediction killed it for me. He is uncaring and selfish towards those who love him and really only on the lookout for his next lay. I also wanted Maeve to pull herself together at first, with a wonderful husband like Matt she should be more grateful but we find out why she is not happy as the book progresses.

            An aside / question
            I felt left wanting to know exactly what was Katie's mum's problem and why was she so nasty to Katie. It made her reluctant to bring friends home to meet them and as soon as she said anything challenging she got shot down. Although it provided the key to 'a bit of gossip' that was needed in the book, I felt curious about this family reationship.

            Recommended?
            As this book is written by Irish author Marian Keyes it is set in Dublin and you do get a lot of references to Irish language (eg. gank = ugly or nasty) which is OK and can be entertaining at times. It was a long book so it is for fast readers and may make good lazy holiday reading if you only want to pack a few books as it will take a few days to get through (even for those who read all the time on hols). I will pass my book on to a friend as I think she will like it but would say it may not suit everyone.

            Final word
            At 600 pages you get the chance to know all the characters pretty well in this book so perhaps it is appropriate that there were so many to meet here. I enjoyed reading this book to a point but really felt it wasn't the best book I had read by MK. After the book ends, we are treated to an epilogue which is really essential to tying up a few loose ends. The ghost provides a great form of narration and is determined to fulfil its quest at 66 Star Street. I was quite satisfied at one element of the ending of the book but can't give it away in this review as there have to be some surprises.

            PS. I liked the fact that some of the characters were named after people who bid for the privilege in a charity auction, that was a nice thing for the author to do and whilst they were not the main characters, they got a mention a few times.

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              23.12.2011 11:01
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              Good romance book looking into the lives of relationships

              The Brightest Star in the Sky is a book by Marian Keyes which is a lovely romance novel with a whopping 614 pages. The books cover is gold with her title "The brightest star in the sky" written inside a large star. This was the first Marian Keyes book I read as it was bought as a gift for my for my birthday last year, and now I have gone on to read 2 other books of hers. She is a great author and look forward to getting another I asked for at Christmas. This book isn't so different to her other books I read in how she writes them. It is a lovely book and I enjoyed reading It and managed to finish it in less than a week which I think is an achievement for me as I never used to be very interested in reading books.

              THE STORY:
              ==================
              The story is about people living in a block of flats at 66 Star Street.

              Katie** Just turned 40, works in music and has a partner called Conall. Her family are always making her feel unworthy and she's unsure of what life she is looking for.
              Lydia** works as a taxi driver and seems to be rather angry at the world. She shares her flat with two Polish men.
              Jemima** is an elderly lady who lives with her dog Grudge. Her foster son comes to stay with her while he is working on a new TV programme. Jemima offers a lot of wise advice and comes across as a good listener.
              Maeve**lives in a flat with her partner Matt. She is rather odd and is very anxious and has a few panic attacks over silly things. They're relationship is a very odd one.

              The story is narrated by a mystery source and in always written in 3rd person except when it starts to go off into the 1st person, you realise this person is an onlooker and someone who is writing about other people's lives. You never know who's watching you! You do eventually find out the mystery source but It was rather obviously for me while reading along as there are a few obvious remarks which make you realise who the narrator is.

              Katie starts off with dating Conall who is a rich business. He seems very caught up In his business lifestyle which drives them to split up. Conall then and then begins to start seeing Lydia. When Jemima's foster son comes to stay, Katie then falls for him. Lydia is happy with seeing Conall then becomes attracted to the thought of sleeping with one of her polish flat mates which makes everything complicated for her. Mat and Maeve seem to have problems within their relationship and it seems like something has happened as Maeve's panic attacks become a problem making tension set in for the couple.

              WHERE TO BUY:
              =================
              You can buy this book from any major book store or online if you search amazon or play.
              It can now be bought as an audio book, Kindle copy or hardback and paperback.

              The kindle version is the cheapest sitting at £2.99 whereas the paperback book is selling for just under £5 which has released with a different cover in February 2011. If you have a computer, there is something online you can download which allows you to read kindle books on your computer.

              MY OPINION:
              ========================
              I really enjoyed reading this book. I was bought it as a gift and wasn't too sure I would want to read it, but soon discovered it was brilliant. Marian Keyes writes in such a way, you feel connected with the characters and almost get to know them so well, you feel they are real and alive. I have since found other Marian Keyes books and she is a lovely writer. She seems to help you along with your imagination as reading along which is somewhat original for a writer, you mostly get so much description of a place or item that you can no longer see it as what you want to see it, you are being given an exact image, whereas Marian seems to give you just a nudge of descript writing. The book is worth the read and I would say is more for women as I cannot see a man being too interested in this read. I can see the difference in this with her other books, but you can still see it is Keyes work with her writing style.
              It's not my favourite out of her books, I think my favourite would have to be "The otherside of the story" which you can also buy on Amazon for around £7.
              I've given this book 4/5 stars as it was a great book!

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                08.02.2011 09:15
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                alright, not the best

                I have read all of Marian Keyes' books and have thought they are all brilliant. They are written in a way which keeps you gripped and have lots of amusing elements to them. I have worked my way through all of her novels in the space of about 3 years and just wish that there were more to read!

                This latest book was published about a year ago but only came out in paperback this November. I decided to wait until the paperback came out as I prefer this kind of publication as it's easier to read in the bath. I had been looking forward to Keyes' latest work and although I enjoyed the book i definitely do not think that it is her best at all. I would have given it less than 4 stars but I thought it was best to judge it as a novel on it's own instead of comparing it to her other publications and so I think it deserves 4 stars.

                *****The story ******

                Please note there will be a spoiler but I wont be giving away what happens.

                This book is told from different chracters' points of view which isn't entirely different for Keyes. It is told in third person but every so often there are lines or paragraphs in italics in a first person format which is rather abstract and leaves you wondering just who this other person/presence is.

                The main characters:
                * Lydia. Lydia is very head strong, she knows what she wants and she seems very short tempered and angry. You get the sense that she is dealing with a lot of issues considering how bitter she is and how hard she works despite only being in her twenties. She shares a flat with two Polish men.

                * Katie. Katie has just turned 40 and is feeling a little like her biological clock is ticking away. She is unsure of what she wants with men and her family are always putting her down suggesting she is worthless.

                * Jemima. Jemima is an elderly lady who lives in a flat with her dog Grudge. She offers wise words of wisdom and is very strong willed.

                * Maeve. Maeve lives with her husband Mat and they are in a tense relationship. She is rather nervous and has a lot of panic attacks.

                All of the characters live in the same building in their various flats. The story tells us about their lives and how they all relate to each other with living in the same building.

                The presence which is hanging around tells us about some of the scenes and some of the atmospheres which are around for example it tells us about the heartbeats of people- how Meave and Mat's are so in tune it's hard to tell who's who. What becomes apparent after reading about half of the story is that this presence is the force of life and the whole point of the story is that this force has to chose one of the ladies in the flats to become pregnant within a certain amount of time. You are left guessing who it will be as couples break up and new men appear on the scene.

                Katie is originally dating Conall who is a rich business man who seems wound up in his work. They split up and Conall then begins to start dating Lydia. Whilst this happens Jemima has her foster son come and stay with her who Katie then falls for, but it's not as simple as that. Lydia may be being wooed by business man Conall but she's also feeling a strange force and urge to want to sleep with one of her Polish flat mates.

                Meanwhile relationships between loved up couple Mat and Meave seems to be going completely haywire with them beginning to get very tense and Maeve's panic attacks taking over. It's very clear that something dramatic has happened in their lives.

                *********Opinion *********

                This book is well written. I found myself wanting to carry on reading as I was learning so much about each of the characters' lives and getting to know them very well. The way that Keyes' writes is so very good as it really does make you relate to the characters and feel as though you know them very well.

                The presence that kept speaking and lurking around the flats was a little annoying though I found that it detracted from the story and although it was a clever idea that Keyes had to add this different element to the book I just don't think it worked as well as it could have done. The Book Thief is a book written by a presence and it worked veryw ell. I felt a bit like Keyes tried to copy this in a way but it wasn't as effective as perhaps it could have been.

                I thought that the way the different characters seemed to mainly be obsessed about relationships was a little dull as i like a bit more to a story than who's sleeping with who but it was written very well, there were no vivid sex scenes which would turn your stomach and there were some very touching moments which were sensitively created. It was interesting to see how the different characters related to each other and interacted whether as friends or lovers.

                I liked a lot of the narration between the characters, there were some witty lines and amusing comments which felt very natural which is typicakl of Keyes' writing and makes me enjoy her books.

                I didn't really like the story though which is a shame. I found it to be a little dull, I did enjoy finding out about what happened to make Maeve so jumpy and why Lydia was so bitter but I found that it moved quite slowly and there wasn't anything really meaty which made me tense and turning pages. I think perhaps where Keyes has gone wrong here is to try and be too clever, to try and tell a story from too many angles from first person, third person, present and past it's just a bit too jumpy so you're trying to keep up with all events.

                Compared to her other work this is not Keyes' best. I would recommend the likes of Rachel's Holiday or Anyone Out There. I think this book tries to be different and it doesn't work for me. If you hadn't read any other Keyes' books then you may enjoy this as it is well written with some very well crafted characters that you will find yourself being able to connect with. The light style of writing with amusing lines is also enjoyable but for me it just doesn't compare to her other work.

                I have given 4 stars because as a book on it's own it is rather well written with some interesting elements and well crafted characters. It is, however, disappointing as it had been built up to be Keyes' best yet and i just don't agree.

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                  22.10.2010 00:12
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                  An optimistic, beautiful read that catapults you into another world

                  Marian Keyes has said on more than one occassion that the Brighest Star in the Sky is her favourite book out of the dozen or so that she has written.
                  I love this author; I really do. I think she is fantastically funny and she writes in such a real way - it's rare.
                  So, I was excited to read this book. She brings out a book maybe once a year - so this was a bit of an event for me!
                  What's it about? A house, split into flats. And the people living in these flats are all just going through their lives, unaware that someone or something is watching them. And...helping them. Okay, that sounds a bit hippy dippy, I know. But it's really not.
                  Keyes is as funny as ever, and her characters leap from the page and beg you to believe in them. I fell in love with Maeve and Matt, especially. I think their story was beautiful, actually, and it sung love, pure love.
                  The "twist" - it's really good. It's actually quite irritating because you're so desperate to find out what it is that you're hopping to skip to the back page. But I didn't! The wait was worth it.
                  Okay, lets put it this way. I started to read this book before I went to bed. I PRISED it out of my hands, woke up early in the morning, picked it up again and didn't get out of bed until 4pm until I finished it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a true story! Honestly. Okay, it was a cold and snowy Sunday...there was nothing pressing to get out of bed for...but STILL!
                  It's not MY favourite Marian book...but I'm just living in the past with my Last Chance Saloon et al, so just ignore me...
                  This book, and its warm, optimistic, happy glow will stay with you for a long time.

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                    18.08.2010 12:16
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                    Not one of her best, but turns into a page turner if you keep going long enough

                    Marian Keyes has been one of my favourite authors for a long time now, ever since the release of her first novel, Watermelon. I am usually very impatient to get my hands on her latest release, meaning that most of the books written by her on my shelves are the hardback versions. For her latest novel, 'The Brightest Star in the Sky', I ended up waiting until it was released in large format paperback as I didn't want to pay the hardback price for it (and nobody bought it for me at Christmas despite dropping many hints!)

                    'The Brightest Star in the Sky' is different from most of the other Marian Keyes novels as it doesn't feature a strong central character. Instead, we are introduced to all the residents of a house (66 Star Street) which has been divided up into flats. The story is narrated by 'a mysterious visitor' (to quote the back of the book) - this isn't a person, it is a star / spirit / mystical presence, depending on how you choose to interpret it. This 'something' arrives in the house on the opening page of the book and you see the characters within the story from its point of view.

                    The residents of 66 Star Street include Katie, a music exec who is reaching the milestone of her 40th birthday and coming to a crossroads in her relationship with Conall. Another flat is home to two Polish workers called Andrei and Jan, who share with Lydia, a young cab driver. The third flat is home to an old lady called Jemima, her very large dog Grudge and her foster son Fionn, who is hoping to launch a new career as a TV gardener. The final flat is home to a couple called Matt and Maeve, who seem initially like a couple very much in love but there is a dark secret lurking beneath the surface of their relationship and threatening to tear them apart.

                    Usually, I feel that characterisation is one of the strongest elements of Marian Keyes' writing. In earlier novels such as 'Rachel's Holiday', 'Angels' or 'Anybody Out There' (all featuring my favourite Marian Keyes characters, the Walsh family) you are immediately drawn into the story and develop strong empathy with the main character. 'The Brightest Star in the Sky' has so many characters and jumps around from one to another with such frequency that I found it very hard to empathise with any of them initially - I did feel more drawn into the story as the book progresses and the character's lives became ever more inter-connected, but it took much longer than I would have expected it to. Eventually, I did feel a connection with some of the characters - I felt that Katie was very easy to empathise with as her personality was the most 'normal' in many ways, and I also enjoyed the parts of the books which focused on Lydia. The storyline about Matt and Maeve was the part which I found drew me into the book most and made me want to keep reading - it was clear from the early part of the book that there was something very wrong deep within their relationship and I wanted to know what had happened to make them the way they were.

                    I found that the style in which the book is written made it harder to get into initially as it was constantly flitting from one character to another with extremely short chapters, some of which were only a couple of pages long. Marian Keyes' last novel 'This Charming Man' also did that to some extent but with four characters who all had their own distinct 'writing style' and a much longer section of book was dedicated to each character at a time, so you felt that you got much more of their story in one go. However, once I had got my head round who all the characters were, had discovered a little bit more about their background / current issues and they started to become more familiar to me, I didn't find the style of writing so hard to read - it just took a bit of getting used to. By the end, the pace of the story had really picked up and I found that it developed into a real page-turner. I ended up reading the last 200 pages in one go late into the night (not a great idea when you've got a six month old baby that wakes very early) because I really wanted to know how everything would turn out.

                    'The Brightest Star in the Sky' is currently available in large-format paperback at a RRP of £14.00. It is available from Amazon for £7.96 (which is the price I paid for it) and the normal-sized paperback edition is due for release in February 2011.

                    Overall, I think I would just about recommend this book - it is probably my least favourite of the Marian Keyes novels, but I felt that my persistence through the slow slog of the early pages was rewarded once it finally got going. This book is darker and has far less laugh out loud moments than her other books, even though some of them deal with fairly serious issues such as drug addiction and rehabilitation (Rachel's Holiday), cancer (Last Chance Saloon) and loss of a loved one (Anybody Out There). There are still the occasional flashes of humour but it does feel like she has tried to write a much more serious novel, which is possibly why I didn't like it so much. For die-hard Marian Keyes fans like me this is still worth a read but, if you're new to her work, then I'd recommend trying one of the earlier books first as I love those. I'm giving it four stars because I did enjoy it once I got into it, I just wish it hadn't taken so long.

                    *This review will also be posted on Ciao as Brownie Queen

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                      17.08.2010 22:31
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                      Buy a latte and a cup cake - better use of your pennies

                      It's fair to say that I despise chick-lit. I find it the intellectual equivalent of opening my skull and popping my brain into a bowl of warm soapy water; not entirely unpleasant, mildly comfortable and a bit bubbly but really pretty pointless. I know from page one that the chances of me learning anything new are close to zero and I will probably have spotted who will end up with whom and identified most of the major plot twists by somewhere round about page twelve. The only exception that I've historically made to the disdain I feel for the genre lies in my guilty little addiction to the books of Marian Keyes (OK, even more guilty, I've got a bit of a soft spot for Maeve Binchy too). I've always set Keyes' writing on a higher plain than standard chick-lit, appreciating that she's tackled tougher topics than her peers. Anyone who takes on alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, bereavement and domestic violence deserves a bit of credit. That at least was my opinion until I picked up her latest book, the Brightest Star in the Sky and changed my mind completely. I can no longer cut her any slack - this book is dreadful formulaic pap. If I hadn't parted with £4.50 for the hard back in a charity shop and at least had the comfort of knowing my pennies went to a good cause, I'd have to dismiss the entire episode as a total waste of time.

                      The book is set in and around a multi-occupancy residential building, 66 Star Street, which as you'd expect is in Dublin. Her books usually ARE so no surprise there. It follows the lives, loves, triumphs and disappointments of the residents, a mismatched bunch that I found hard to imagine sharing a roof. On the ground floor we find Maeve and Matt the young married couple who seem to be rather more clingy than might be expected and are harbouring a horrible secret that explains their rapidly revealed reliance on anti-depressants. Heading to the upper floors we meet Jemima, the elderly protestant who lives with her dog and is temporarily putting up her pretty-boy catholic foster-son Fionn whilst he makes a gardening programme for a television channel. Jemima is a part time telephone psychic, a complete fraud of course, but one with a good heart. We also find aggressive, gobby, angry little Lydia, sharing a flat with two terribly serious Poles called Jan and Andrei and driving taxis to pay her rent. What's HER problem, you're sure to think, and of course that's what you're supposed to think and of course Marian will reveal all if you keep reading. At the top of the house lives Katie, successful music PR with an on again-off again relationship with fabulously wealthy business man Connal, the man who came to takeover the company she works for and spends most of his life on slash and burn raids all over the world making him a good 'catch' but utterly unreliable. It's not for nothing that her colleagues nick named him Connal the Barbarian.

                      So far, so fairly predictable. I could live with this set up if I thought it was going to develop intriguingly. What I couldn't live with from the very offset was the narrator. The story is told by a mystical observing force, nipping in and out of their flats, in and out of their minds and hovering about. We're not sure what it is until very near the end but it irritated the pants off me. Was it a star (as the title perhaps suggested) or a benign spirit of some kind? Plough on through 600 pages or so and you'll find out and possibly wish you hadn't bothered. Combined with this irritating little voice telling the story is another massively irritating affectation - the chapters are numbered for days and they're counted backwards. If that wasn't annoying enough, multiple chapters have the same name so make sure you've got a book mark or are happy dog-earing your page corners. I was at least 200 pages in before I realised that I still didn't give a damn about a single character in the book.

                      It's not all totally annoying. I found some of the things the residents did very amusing or interesting. Unravelling the secret of the depression on the ground floor was intriguing and the eventual apparent divine retribution on the villain of the piece did have me keen to punch the air and shout "Take that you bastard" though it was of course ridiculous how things played out. I loved the intensity of Lydia's anger and her passion for trying to bring justice to her aging mother when nobody would listen to her concerns, just as I enjoyed the passion of her coupling with a man she allegedly hated and her contempt for another man trying far too hard to win her over. I found Katie on the top floor ludicrous in her 4 inch heels and her silly job PR-ing for rock stars and really didn't give a hoot whether she and Connal ever patched things up. Fionn, was fluffy and Andrei's prissy magnet-kneed girlfriend Rosie was laughably awful. Jemima was strangely compelling in last 100 pages or so but it was a hard slog to get that far.

                      What is it with fat books? Why do writers choked on success all seem to want to do a J.K. Rowling and make every book fatter than the last? There's a good 250 page novel tucked inside Brightest Star in the Sky but it's carrying 350 pages of flab that really should have been shed. It's far too big for a beach read, too heavy for dipping into on public transport and it's basically just not worth the effort. After about 15 years of loyalty, I've had enough. Marian's just been dumped - sorry love but you're off my reading list for good and the books off to another charity shop since that's the only good I can see coming out of it.

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                        17.06.2010 16:55

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                        A feel good book that will stir all your emotions.

                        As a big Marian Keyes fan I was dying for the arrival of this book and was not disappointed. I'm not a big reader and get bored easily but Marian Keyes books never fail to impress me. This is a very clever, imaginative story with a mixture of comedy, drama, tragedy and romance. Needless to say it didn't take me long to read it as I couldn't put it down. Marian Keyes gets right to the heart of her characters and shows you their vulnerability which helps you attach yourself to them and become part of the story. I'm not going to give too much away about the storyline but it's basically several stories about the lives of the residents of an apartment block in Star Street and how there lives all merge together. The story is told by an invisible presence in the characters lives whose purpose is to analyze each resident and choose a suitable person to help them fulfill their destiny. All in all a very feel good book that will stir all your emotions. Roll on the next Marian Keyes novel!

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                        25.04.2010 22:21
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                        Another excellent offering from Marian Keyes

                        Another fantastic offering from Marian Keyes, this book had me gripped from cover to cover and left me wanting more. The plot of the book initially appears to be fairly simple as it follows the lives of the inhabitants of 66 Star Street in Dublin, however things take a more complex twist as their initially separate lives begin to intertwine and the mysterious visitor makes it presence more felt.

                        As detailed on the blurb on the back of the book the story follows the occurrences at four flats within one house, 66 Star Street. A newly married couple, Matt and Maeve, live on the ground floor. At first they seem very much in love and contented, however later this facade erodes and it becomes very much apparent something is seriously wrong. Above them lives Jemima and her aptly named companion dog Grudge. Jemima is a wise old woman, with perhaps a little psychic ability, something which she much disputes. Their lives change drastically as Jemima's adopted son Fionn moves into the flat (much to Grudge's disgust) as he begins a new life as a celebrity TV gardener and soon sets about causing chaos with the women of 66 Star Street. The next floor up is home to to the embittered Lydia and Andrei and Jan, who have made the journey from Poland to Dublin in search of a better education and career. It soon becomes clear that Lydia has a very negative and harsh attitude, with a list as long of your arm of things she hates and just four things you love. Later in the novel it becomes clear that the decline of her parents health and the responsibility placed on her by her wayward brothers has had a major affect on how she sees life, herself and others. Finally on the top floor resides Katie, who as the head publicist for an entertainment company with a millionaire boyfriend appears to have it all. Things soon change when she decides she has had enough of Connall's (the millionaire boyfriend) unreliability and takes control of her own life and falls for Fionn. The scene is then set for a cataclysmic chain of events which alter the lives of all involved forever.

                        The novel reaches a dramatic and emotive conclusion as bonds are made and broken whilst dark secrets are exposed. The last quarter of the book really did have me glued as I read it all in one mammouth three and a half hour sitting - time well spent! As with all of Marian Keyes' novels this book is impeccably written, with personable and likeable characters and an engaging storyline. The inclusion of the mysterious presence watching over the characters initially felt a little far-fetched and corny, however once the novel was resolved it all felt as though it fitted and made sense.

                        I felt that the way in which the characters developed gave them real depth and showed them as multi-faceted with issues that the reader can identify with influencing their actions. Having seven main characters, each with their own story to tell, can make the story feel a little crowded at times and I know on a couple of occasions that i was left feeling exasperated as a particular character's story was cut off at what I felt was a vital point, although i suppose this adds to the tension.

                        Overall i would thoroughly recommend this novel, as it keeps the reader engaged and has a poignant conclusion. The subject matter dealt with is a little darker than in some of Keyes' earlier novels, particularly in the final quarter, however the uplifting conclusion ensures that the reader is left feeling optomistic and fulfilled.

                        Updated 27/04/10

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                          22.03.2010 14:59
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                          A truly great story that you can get lost in...for hours!

                          I love Marian Keyes, I've read all of her books and always try to get them as soon as they come out.

                          They do all tend to follow a similar plot, Irish woman, great job, looking for love.

                          This book, however, was a bit different. It started off being a little 'odd' and hard to follow, but I persevered with it. I'm so pleased that I did, it turned out to be one of Marian's best books. It focuses around a house in Dublin, 66 Star Street, which has been converted into several flats. The story follows each of the characters living in this house, and how their lives intertwine.

                          Some of the subject areas are a little hard hitting, rape, death, violence, but not in a graphic way so it doesn't spoil the enjoyment of reading.

                          The characters, as usual, are well written and believable, with a good deal of 'personality' woven into the book to make they come to life. There are twists and turns throughout, with some unexpected endings for some fo the characters.

                          I couldn't put this book down and was glad that I was on holiday when I was reading it, otherwise I might have got in trouble for missing work! I'd recommend this book to any of Marian's fans, but also to those people that like to get lost in a book whilst getting to know some great characters!

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                            18.02.2010 08:42
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                            worth a few hours put aside to read this

                            Marian Keyes is one of my favourite authors and I enjoyed this book.

                            Marian Keyes tends to write about different issues (drug addiction, alcoholism, domestic violence) and this one had issues about rape, hitting middle age, busy lives and dementia. It isn't as hard hitting as some of her other books, but covered them in an interesting way.

                            The characters in the story are very believeable and it is easy to relate to them as their stories are told. The story is told by a mystery narrator whose identity becomes clear as the book progresses. At first, the mystery person is telling the story through the other characters, but as the book continues, the stories around the characters become more prominent. You will be gripped and want to find out how everything pans out in the end.

                            This isn't my favourite Marian Keyes book, but it is well worth a read and will give you that feel good effect when you have finished it.

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                              04.02.2010 14:51
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                              Excellent read

                              For me this book was an excellent read and I couldn't put it down.

                              However it's been said that this is not one of Marian Keye's best books and while I'd agree with that, for me it was a still a very good read. Even one of Marian's not so good books is still head and shoulders above other authors in the same genre, for me anyway.

                              It is the characters and their individual stories that shone out in this book. It is a very long book, over 600 pages, and takes a while to get into. Even so I had to keep referring back to the front pages which gave a synopsis of the main characters. But it was worth it. Once it got going it became a page turner, you wanted to find out about the characters and there were some twists to the story too.

                              As in all Marian Keye's books there is darkness and light, one minute you want to laugh, the next cry. The only downside to this book was the way the narrative was written, it did keep you guessing until the end, but was not entirely realistic I felt.

                              However that alone didn't detract from my enjoyment of this very good book which I highly recommend.

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                                02.02.2010 16:58
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                                Disappointing

                                I'd heard mixed reviews about this book so wasn't sure whether to get it or not, but as it was on offer in Tescos I went for it because it's Marian Keyes, so it must be good right?

                                Well I'll let you be the judge of that, but here are my thoughts:

                                The blurb on the back states:

                                "One address. Four flats. A houseful of hearts. And the extraordinary visitor about to change their lives forever...66 Star Street. It's Marian. It's magic"

                                And this alone does not give you much idea of what the book will involve, so buying it on this basis would mean you were just buying it because it was Marian Keyes, not because you thought the story sounded good.

                                So here is my brief overview of the story. The book centres around the occupants of a small block of flats. The story is narrated by something I can only describe as an 'Invisible Visitor' (we don't know who this is, it's kind of mysterious). This Invisible Visitor descends onto the flats and goes through assessing the inhabitants one by one, so this kind of introduces you to the main characters in the book.

                                Katie - she lives on the top floor. 40 years old, successful career, but unmarried and dating Conall, a rich 'I have far too much money, always get my own way, and think I can buy people's affections' type who most of Katie's family and friends dislike and find intimidating.

                                Jemima - she is an 80 something widow living alone, apart from her dog Grudge who keeps her company. She senses when the Invisible Visitor is in the room with her (although we find out later that she actually sensed someone else as well). She also has a foster son, Fionn, who comes from out of town to stay with her while he starts filming his new TV show. Fionn seems to have a larger part in the story than you are initially led to believe, but he eventually comes across as a selfish womaniser. And his jacket plays a strange part in the story.

                                Andrei, Jan and Lydia - these are 3 people who just share a flat. Andrei & Jan are from Poland and are in the country earning money to send back to their families at home. Lydia is an Irish girl who shares with them. Lydia is initially portrayed as quite a horrible person; she seems to hate everyone and everything, it seems the world owes her a big favour. But as the story unfolds you find more about her family and her past and you learn why she is this way. Andrei and Jan dislike her very much, and the feeling is reciprocated, but their relationship has it's ups and downs throughout the book.

                                Matt and Maeve - these are a young married couple who live on the ground floor. They initially seem very happy and very much in love, but there is an underlying problem which also unfolds as the story is told, but you are kept guessing as to what deep and dark secrets are lurking in their past.

                                These characters seem to have nothing in common with each other, and they only reason they are all in the same book is because they all live in the same block of flats. Their paths do not cross throughout the majority of the book.

                                When I was about halfway through the book I realised I didn't particularly care about any of these characters and I wasn't really interested in any of their stories, apart from Matt and Maeve. There was something about the way their story was unfolding that intrigued me and it was this couple which kept me reading the book. Otherwise I would have given up because most of the characters were quite dull, didn't seem to have any likeable qualities, and I would even go so far as to say irritating. Although there seemed to be some sort of 'past' for each of them, which was obviously going to resurface as the book unfolded, I still wasn't that keen to find out. It just seemed that as a reader you are a fly on the wall watching them live out their boring ordinary lives, slowly letting you discover secrets bit by bit.

                                I also struggled with the way the book was laid out, it jumped about between the characters and I just couldn't get a hold on any of them for long enough before I had to start reading about someone else. You see the book is not set out in chapters, but days...which is strange. It starts off at Day 60, and each segment is about one of the occupants of the flat, and as you progress through the book, the days start to count down, until you reach Day Zero, which is obviously the end.

                                I found this quite difficult to get into because you read a couple of pages about, for instance, Katie, and you feel you are just getting to know them, but then the book jumps to another character. And at first I was struggling to remember who was who, and I had to keep flicking back to the beginning to remind myself who I was reading about and what their relevance was in the book.

                                I did feel there were too many characters, and the way the book was set out, made it even more difficult to get to know them and get a feel for whatever was happening in their lives. But I did find that as I got further into the book, I was starting to become more intrigued as to what was actually going to happen, and what event the days were counting down to. And you don't really get much of a hint about what mysterious thing is lurking amongst them, until the final days, so this sort of keeps you hooked and wanting to read on. But my feelings were that I wanted to read on to basically finish the book, not to find out what was happening; it wasn't that sort of page turner.

                                There was a 'climax' near the end of the book which actually brought most of the occupants of the house together and made them converse with each other, and this was quite satisfying to read, because I felt I had actually been reading several separate stories at once, so for them all to come together at this 'event' was good reading. And after the event, it seemed they had more of a connection between each other, but the book was now virtually at a close so I was quite disappointed that it took so long for anything to happen.

                                It was at this point that you realise who the Invisible Visitor is, and what their intentions are, and it's interesting to see who they pick, but then again, it was kind of a no-brainer.

                                To be honest I was quite disappointed with the entire book, I found it slow and definitely not a book I longed to pick up and read every second of the day, but it was good to relax me ready for bed... I thought most of the characters were not particularly exciting, although a couple of them had experienced unfortunate events in their lives, and one or two quite tragic, but still it took a long time for this information to surface. I found Matt and Maeve to be the most interesting characters, and I think they could have formed their own novel based on how they met, their past, marriage and what the future holds for them.

                                I thought the ending was predictable, and although it was satisfying to finish the book, I still felt a little bit disappointed, and as I think back through what I have read I kind of feel like the book was building you up to a more climatic ending that it actually was. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I think the author was perhaps trying to be a bit magical and mysterious but didn't quite pull it off, and the ending, although original, just wasn't enough.

                                The book is 611 pages long which makes it a long book, so it really should have been better.

                                ISBN 978-0-718-14986-4
                                Hardback £18.99 but currently £9.49 on Amazon.
                                Paperback still to be released.

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