Pros: Marian's lively wit!
Cons: too long, weak storyline, extremely dull.
Being a Marian Keyes fan, I couldn’t resist long when I saw her gold shiny book everywhere. It has 600 pages but much of it can be contributed to the lay out and font size. It is divided into several mini chapters that break it down for the reader thus making it an easy read. The size and weight of the book made it quite difficult to feel comfortable while reading even though I got paperback edition.
An unknown entity, on a mission, flies over Dublin to reach its final destination, 66 Star Street. We come to see, know and understand the residents of this house through this mysterious stranger whose identity we’ll only find out in the end. There are four flats in the building and each one has a story to unravel. On the top floor lives Katie, who has newly turned forty, a music executive in love with a hopeless workaholic, Conall, who is a charming enough to win over almost everyone. Below her live two Polish students who share the apartment with Lydia, a tough cabbie with a sharp tongue but a secret softer side. Andrei has a girlfriend Rosie who will not let her guard down till they marry, and he hates Lydia apart from having spontaneous sex with her whenever they get to see each other. On the first floor is Jemima, a psychic, and her foster son Fionn, a gardener who looks like a fairy tale prince. Matt and Maeve, a genuinely devoted young couple, live on the ground floor. All these people are being observed by this strange creature and soon old secrets will be revealed, andtheir lives will change forever.
Matt and Maeve have perfectly synchronized life style and even their heart beats. To anyone looking they seem to be deeply in love and a perfect life. The stranger shows us their past life gradually and we come to know that behind all the perfection lies an ugly secret that soon drives them apart. Before they got married, they used to work in the same organization but dated different people. Matt was engaged to Natt and Maeve was seeing David, a political activist who could not let go any injustice. Things were going perfectly fine till Matt and Maeve fell in love and had to breakup with their partners. Matt’s fiancée’ took it well unlike David who could not forgive them even after they got married and refused to accept their apologies as well.
Katie has just turned forty and being in music business she realizes being old every minute of the day and the loneliness. Conall is Katie’s boyfriend and he has earned his fortune downsizing companies. Conall is a workaholic and work is what he lives for. Katie soon begins to feel that she is putting a lot of efoort to mak this relationship work while Conall is always letting her down. Unable to handle the constant humiliation and insecurity, she breaks up with Conall and advises him to date someone in twenties. He takes her advice quite literally and starts courting Lydia who goes out with him only because he would leave her alone till she would agree. To sum it up I would say there are many twists and turns as far as the relationships are concerned.
Although like the rest of Marian’s books, it is also over crowded with characters but the ones I discussed earlier stand out the most. Andrei and Rosie appear only to lighten up the story. Jemima’s dog, Grudge, got more part than her although his part I thoroughly enjoyed. Marian has actually given a whole chapter just for Grudge’s thoughts. Somehow I felt that David’s character shows a dramatic shift from being someone who cannot tolerate injustice to someone who does injustice. Marian might wants to represent the hypocrisy that prevails in society but in this case it seems far fetched. It could have been better if she could have provided some details about his background.
I didn’t understand the countdown of the days at all. The book starts with Day 61 and we know that something will happen on day 1, but what does the backward counting signifies? I didn’t understand. I guessed the identity of the narrator, the mysterious entity, when I suppose the author intended us to guess and kind of come as an awful surprise. After knowing the identity, I felt that the whole story could have been dealt quite differently. Then it should have been on a lighter note and not a depressing tale of hopeless creatures. For much of the book nothing happens-and I mean NOTHING. 600 pages require a lot of concentration but keeping the fact in mind that it is Marian I didn’t feel that would be a problem. I kept waiting for that point in the book when you cannot put it down without finishing and sadly enough that happened to be the last few chapters of the book. The book claims to be magical but except for the mysterious creature flying around and watching everyone silently, there was nothing magical.
For some reason lately authors have started trying left right and almost in every direction to get a unique story. That is what I felt when I read Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl which is about a ghost that visits a girl for a secret to be revealed but at least the story was a lot more convincing. For Marian, she is such a great author that it is a pity this book did no convincing for me. I don’t see the same author who has written an amazing book like Sushi for Beginners. I guess the more popular an author gets the pressure from the publishers to write a book is far more than their drive to express their creative side which clearly reflects in this latest publication. I hope instead of writing a book every year if authors take more time and write something that truly inspires them we would get better quality.
I would not recommend that you must buy it because it is quite expensive but get it from a library or borrow from a friend and do give it a read for the simple reason that it is written by Marian Keyes- one of Ireland's greatest authors.