‘The Brightest Star in the Sky’, Marian Keyes

‘The Brightest Star in the Sky’, Marian Keyes

I have read pretty much everything that Marian Keyes has written, and this book is, by far, my favourite. I couldn’t put it down. The Brightest Star in the Sky has a myriad of interesting and unique characters, all live at 66 Star Street, the narrator bounces between characters, homes and stories, and in this way, you get to know the intimate details of the comings and goings at 66 Star Street.

The Brightest Star in the Sky is written from an unusual perspective, that of an unborn child.  For most the book, I thought that it may have been written from the perspective of death, it was not until the final chapters that I realised that couldn’t be the case. The narrative voice just seemed too bouncy and chatty to be death…

The story moves at astonishing pace, and tells the story of individuals almost poetically. And you quickly realise that not all is what it seems at 66 Star Street.  It made me smile and cry in equal measure. Keyes tackles deep issues, rape, estrangement, death, and suicide. Albeit difficult to read these scenes are necessary and by weaving these events into her work Keyes is helping to bring attention to issues that remain taboo.

Conceptually, the novel is very different to Keyes’ usual style, the narrator is not yet born, the time line moves quickly, and the rapidity of the pace is reinforced by short chapters. Some fans of Keyes may not like this change in narrative style.  There are two very definitive tones used in the book – the first half of the book lulls you into a false sense of security, creating almost idyllic representations of the lives of those living at 66 Star Street, mirages of perfect lives crack suddenly in the second half of the book. The narrative voice switches to one that is angry and exposes the heartbreak behind the perfect façade.  You learn of Maeve’s rape, and the subsequent decline of her marriage, and the attempted suicide of Maeve’s husband. You learn of Jemima’s cancer, and Lydia’s struggle to look after her mother.

The book ends with Maeve and her husband coming back together, and the narrator ‘finding’ its family just in time. The Brightest Star in the Sky is a very different Marian Keyes book, Keyes has never written just ‘chick lit’, her books are intricate, and her characters flawed but flawless, this book is no different. The characters are complex, and evoke strong emotions in the reader.  Loss and life come together in this book in a unique way and in spite of its differences to Keyes’ other work, and the polarised opinions it has given rise to, it is one of Keyes’ best works to date, and I highly recommend it.