Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review of Marian Keyes's The Brightest Star in the Sky

I finished reading Marian Keyes's new book, The Brightest Star in the Sky, and I'm going to give you a wee review of it even though I don't usually do reviews,because I suffer from review-writing intimidation. Even if you would never read Marian Keyes, stick with me here because there is something very important about this book for all writers that I picked up.

For those of you not familiar with Irish author Marian Keyes, she is considered one of the mavens of the chick lit or women's fiction genre. What sets her stories apart is the focus on painful issues (rather than shopping), mixed with really delicious humor. Issues include depression, infertility, drug and alcohol addiction, grief, and physical abuse. This new one is no exception; Keyes takes on rape.

Let me first say that I am delighted to write this review right now because the book is not yet published in the US but I am impatient and could not wait for mid-January, so I paid more and ordered it from This suited me anyway because then I could be sure that editors wouldn't change any language for the US audience. I don't actually know if they do this with Marian Keyes books, but they sure as hollandaise sauce do it for books like Harry Potter. HP books (not to be confused with another British delight, HP sauce) which not only were given different titles in the US, but words were changed in what I believe was an attempt to dumb them down for us stupid Americans who couldn't be trusted to know a British word. Fine, many can't ("can't" in this case is the correct term!), but that's not the issue, it's the assumption. Digression. So anyway my UK copy arrived and it had no jacket! It was jacket-less! Instead, the hardcover was GOLD with STARS on it! (As evidenced by the above pic; the US version will look like this, which is hideously insulting in its difference.) It was delightful. Also it was the first print book I'd gotten my hands on that was overtly printed on recycled paper.

Now, The Brightest Star in the Sky starts off deliciously, with some kind of being popping in on the inhabitants of 66 Star Street in Dublin. We like this because the being observes things in a wonderfully-permissable omniscient point of view. But after that, we don't hear from the being for a while, except in different fonts. I found that a little disconcerting, but that is my only non-positive review.

The book follows several different characters through love, loss, and emotional growth (for some). It's hilarious often, but here's the thing--the part you care about. The book was great, as always--Marian is a veteran and it is expected (and I believe I've said before that I wish we were BFFs...maybe someday she'll read my novel and I can put a quote from her on the cover about how much she liked it and what a boundless talent Sierra Godfrey is...and then she'll blog about it and tell the world how she's discovered this amazing author, and we'll exchange Christmas cards and she'll send me Beleek china and Jo Malone candles, and we'll cite each other in the acknowledgment sections of our books, and we'll send each other our draft manuscripts for early feedback.... Anyway, there were a alot of characters and by the time the book eneded, I cared about all of them, and I regretted that the book had ended.

And that, mes amies (as Marian would say), is what makes a good book.

What do you think you can do to make a reader regret that a book ended?
Next week I'll blog about what it is exactly in The Brightest Star in the Sky that I think made me regret having it end.


Travener said...

Really, really good writing makes me regret a book's ended. I don't feel that way about too many books. Cold Mountain is the last book I recall making me feel that way.

Julie Dao said...

Wow! This sounds like a terrific read. Bittersweet endings and characters I've fallen in love with make me regret that the book has ended.

Jm Diaz said...

Wow, that parenthetical digression went so long, that it never closed. I love it :)

I have never read any of her books, but I promise I'll order directly from good ol' Britannia as well if the fantastically talented Sierra Godfrey is indeed mentioned.

Sierra Godfrey said...

JM: ) there, consider it closed :)

Hate it when I miss stuff like that! I did go on a bit. I was scuppered by the end. (Like that, Tina Lynn?)

Tina Lynn said...

Yes. That was awesome. Hmmm...what makes me regret turning that last page? I would have to say, there are some characters that become like me friends and closing that book is like them moving away. I can reopen the book and "relive old memories", but we won't really make new ones. That is always a little heartbreaking. Great post. It makes me want to buy all things British from Amazon UK, is that strange?

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