As skylines go up, and lives get busier, and new social media apps pop up out of nowhere, real-life interactions take a backseat. When was the last time you had a real conversation with your next door neighbour?
Best-selling Irish author Marian Keyes asks just that question in her novel Brightest Star in the Sky. The answers she provides make for one serious page-turner.
The book revolves around the residents of 66 Star Street, an apartment building with a banana-shaped door knocker. Working from top floor down, we meet Katie, a music executive, whose relationship with the wealthy workaholic Conall is on the rocks. Then there are the Polish immigrants Jan and Andrei, living in terror with their room-mate Lydia, an irate taxi driver. A floor down, we have Jemima the telephone psychic holding court with her donkey-sized dog Grudge. And finally, we have Matt and Maeve, a married couple seemingly joined at the hips.
We're introduced to the residents via a nameless, omniscient, and invisible narrator, a spirit of some sort, with an agenda of its own, and with its arrival, a three-month countdown kicks off, and we watch the lives of the people inside 66, Star Street unravel organically, even as the narrator painstakingly reveals each person's unique backstory.
What starts as a snarky, slightly voyeuristic comedy, not unlike a Woody Allen movie, takes a sharp and dark turn right into Alice Sebold territory, and all the separate lives inside the apartments collide and connect in ways neither they nor us, the readers, expected.
Equal parts funny, dark, sad and ultimately heart warming, the story will weave a magical spell on you and keep you guessing until the very end.