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The Brightest Star in the Sky - Marian Keyes

The Brightest Star in the Sky

Paperback

Published: 31st January 2011
For Ages: 18+ years old
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RRP $23.99
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'Zips along with engaging characters, fabulous plotting and spot-on dialogue. Marian Keyes: what a genius' Daily Mail

'Unforgettable and, quite seriously, our favourite Keyes novel yet' Heat

'June the first, a bright summer's evening, a Monday . . .'

And into the busy, bustling homes at 66 Star Street slips, unseen, a mysterious visitor. As the couples, flatmates and repentant singletons of No 66 fall in and out of love, clutch at and drop secrets, laugh, cry and simply try to live, no one suspects the visitor patiently waiting in the wings. For soon, really very soon, everything is going to change . . .

'When it comes to writing page-turners that put a smile on your face and make you think, Keyes is in a class of her own' Daily Express

'An expert storyteller who can make you roar with laughter one minute then sob into your pillow the next. The perfect book to cosy up with' Lorraine Kelly, Sun

'A magical tale of love, loss, laughter and secrets' Marie Claire

About the Author

Marian Keyes' international bestselling novels include Rachel's Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There and This Charming Man. Two collections of her journalism, Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet, are also available from Penguin. Marian lives in Dublin with her husband.

Day 61
June the first, a bright summer’s evening, a Monday. I’ve been
flying over the streets and houses of Dublin and now, finally,
I’m here. I enter through the roof. Via a skylight I slide into
a living room and right away I know it’s a woman who lives
here. There’s a femininity to the furnishings – pastelcoloured
throws on the sofa, that sort of thing. Two plants.
Both alive. A television of modest size.
I appear to have arrived in the middle of some event. Several
people are standing in an awkward circle, sipping from
glasses of champagne and pretending to laugh at what the
others are saying. A variety of ages and sexes suggests that
this is a family occasion.
Birthday cards abound. Discarded wrapping paper. Presents.
Talk of leaving for the restaurant. Hungry for information
I read the cards. They’re addressed to someone called
Katie and she appears to be celebrating her fortieth birthday.
I wouldn’t have thought that that called for much celebration
but it takes all sorts, I’m told.
I locate Katie. She looks a good deal younger than forty,
but forty is the new twenty, according to my information.
She’s tallish and dark-haired and bosomy and gamely doing
her best to stay upright in a pair of spike-heeled knee-boots.
Her force field is a pleasant one; she vibrates with levelheaded
warmth, like a slightly sexy primary-school teacher.
(Although that’s not actually her job. I know this because I
know an awful lot.)
The man next to Katie, glowing with dark pride – the pride
is in large part to do with the new platinum watch on Katie’s
wrist – is her boyfriend, partner, loved one, whatever you
want to call it.
An interesting man, with a compelling life force, his vibrations
are so powerful they’re almost visible. I’ll be honest:
I’m intrigued.
Conall, they’re calling this man. The more polite members
of the group, at least. A few other names are hovering in the
ether – Show-off; Flash bastard – but remain unuttered. Fascinating.
The men don’t like him at all. I’ve identified Katie’s
father, brother and brother-in-law and not one of them is
keen. However, the women – Katie’s mother, sister and best
friend – don’t seem to mind him as much.
I’ll tell you something else: this Conall doesn’t live here. A
man on a frequency as potent as his wouldn’t stand for a television
of such modest size. Or plant-watering.
I waft past Katie and she puts a hand up to the nape of her
neck and shivers.
‘What?’ Conall looks ready to do battle.
‘Nothing. Someone just walked over my grave.’
Oh come now! Hardly!
‘Hey!’ Naomi – older sister of Katie – is pointing at a mirror
that’s propped on the floor against a cupboard. ‘Is your
new mirror not up yet?’
‘Not yet,’ Katie says, sudden tension leaking from between
her teeth.
‘But you’ve had it for ages! I thought Conall was going to
do it for you.’
‘Conall is going to do it,’ Katie says very firmly. ‘Tomorrow
morning, before he goes to Helsinki. Aren’t you, Conall?’
Friction! Zinging around the room, rebounding off the
walls. Conall, Katie and Naomi volleying waves of tension
against each other in a fast-moving taut triangle, the repercus-
sions expanding ever outwards to include everyone else there.
Entre nous, I’m dying to find out what’s going on but, to my
alarm, I’m being overtaken by some sort of force. Something
bigger or better than me is moving me downwards. Through
the 100 per cent wool rug, past some dodgy joists, which are
frankly riddled with woodworm – someone should be told –
and into another place: the flat below Katie’s. I’m in a kitchen.
An astonishingly dirty kitchen. Pots and pans and plates are
piled higgledy-piggledy in the sink, soaking in stagnant water,
the lino floor hasn’t been washed in an age, and the stove top
sports many elaborate splashes of old food as if a gang of
action painters has recently paid a visit. Two muscular young
men are leaning on the kitchen table, talking in Polish. Their
faces are close together and the conversation is urgent, almost
panicked. They’re both pulsing with angst, so much so that
their vibrations have become entangled and I can’t get a handle
on either of them. Luckily, I discover I am fl uent in Polish,
and here’s a rude translation of what they’re saying:
‘Jan, you tell her.’
‘No, Andrei, you tell her.’
‘I tried the last time.’
‘Andrei, she respects you more.’
‘No, Jan. Hard as it is for me, a Polish man, to understand,
she doesn’t respect either of us. Irish women are beyond me.’
‘Andrei, you tell her and I’ll give you three stuffed
cabbages.’
‘Four and you’re on.’
(I’m afraid I made up those last two sentences.)
Into the kitchen comes the object of their earnest discussion
and I can’t see what they’re so afraid of, two fi ne big lads like
them, with their tattoos and slightly menacing buzz cuts. This
little creature – Irish, unlike the two boys – is lovely. A pretty
little minx with mischievous eyes and spiky eyelashes and a
head of charming jack-in-the-box curls that spring all the way
down past her shoulders. Mid-twenties, by the look of her, and
exuding vibrations so zesty they zigzag through the air.
In her hand she’s carrying a pre-prepared dinner. A
wretched-looking repast. (Greyish roast beef, in case you’re
interested.)
‘Go on,’ Jan hisses at Andrei.
‘Lydia.’ Andrei gestures at the, quite frankly, filthy kitchen.
Speaking English, he says, ‘You clean sometime.’
‘Sometime,’ she agrees, scooping up a fork from the draining
board. ‘But sadly not in this lifetime. Now move.’
With alacrity Andrei clears a path for her to access the
microwave. Viciously, she jabs her fork into the cellophane
covering her dinner. Four times, each puncture making a
noise like a small explosion, loud enough to make Jan’s left
eye twitch, then she slams the carton into the microwave. I
take this opportunity to drift up behind her to introduce
myself, but to my surprise she swats me away as though I
were a pesky fly.
Me!
Don’t you know who I am?
Andrei is giving it another go. ‘Lydia, pliz . . . Jan and I, we
clean menny, menny times.’
‘Good for you.’ Breezy delivery from Lydia as she locates
the least dirty-looking knife in the murk of the sink and runs
it under the tap for half a second.
‘We hev made rota.’ Feebly Andrei waves a piece of paper
at her.
‘Good for you again.’ Oh how white her teeth are, how
dazzling her smile!
‘You are livingk here three weeks. You hev not cleaned.
You must clean.’
An unexpected pulse of emotion radiates from Lydia, black
and bitter. Apparently, she does clean. But not here? Where,
then?
‘Andrei, my little Polish cabbage, and you too, Jan, my
other little Polish cabbage, let’s imagine things were the other
way round.’ She waves her (still soiled) knife to emphasize
her point. In fact, I know that there are 273 different bacteria
thriving and fl ourishing on that knife. However, I also know
by now that it would take the bravest and most heroic of
bacteria to get the better of this Lydia.
‘The other way round?’ Andrei asks anxiously.
‘Say it was two women and one man living in this flat. The
man would never do anything. The women would do it all.
Wouldn’t they?’
The microwave beeps. She whisks her unappetizing dinner
from it and, with a charming smile, leaves the room to look
up something on the internet.
What a peppy little madam! A most fascinating little firebrand!
‘She called us cabbages,’ Jan said stonily. ‘I hate when she
calls us cabbages.’

ISBN: 9780141028675
ISBN-10: 014102867X
Audience: General
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 640
Published: 31st January 2011
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9  x 3.8
Weight (kg): 0.44