Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dear Marian.... (a review)

The residents of 66 Star Street in Dublin are all being watched… but by what? Maeve and Matt seem happy enough to anybody looking in, but behind the facade is a truth that neither of them wants to be made public. Katie and Conall have a love/hate relationship, but how will the arrival of TVgardener Fionn affect their relationship? Lydia lives with Polish men Andrei and Jan, but can’t stand either of them… not to mention the problems Lydia is having with her own mother as well. And Jemima lives with her lovely dog Gurudge, but is sure she feels the presence of something hanging around the house of 66 Star Street. Just what, or who, is watching these people? And will the secrets that bind them ever come out?

Dear Queen Marian of Keyes,
I write this with blood shot eyes and a thumping headache. I didn't get to sleep until very, very late last night you see. Because I was reading your book - that one, there in the picture.
I had bought it as soon as it was released, just as I have done every time one of your books has been published since I discovered you when Rachel's Holiday was out. That was a long time ago Marian. A lot has happened since then. I've grown up into proper adulthood reading your books. I have been inspired by you. I even started to write books myself because of you.
And now well, I have my very own publishing deal and books of my own. In a completely non-stalkerish way, I feel like I know you.
So I feel we can sit down and talk - woman to woman, author to author.
The thing that I loved so much about your books in the past is that they could make me laugh out loud and not give a damn. Sitting on a ferry to Holyhead? Didn't care. It was too funny to hold in.
Sitting in a room at a party where I was being very unsociable? Didn't care. Needed to find out what happened next.
I loved your books. When I grew up I wanted to write like you. I almost wet my knickers with excitement when it was rumoured Rachel's Holiday was going to be made into a film. Jimmy Nesbitt, for the record, would make an excellent Luke.
But you see, a couple of books back you changed. And it kind of threw me. How could you change Marian? After all we had been through? How you start writing about more serious things (not that addiction and depression and all aren't serious but you wrote about them in a way that didn't feel serious... Brilliant, educational but not dark..)
I devoured This Charming Man - loved it. (Had a few reservations about the diary style writing) but declared it your best book ever. And then I sat back and it troubled me a little because it didn't feel like it was a Marian book. Yes - it was perceptive as always. Yes - it was witty and near the knuckle and not afraid to  deal with dodgy subjects.
I liked that. (Although, between us, there was a fair amount of gnashing of teeth because I was just putting the finishing touches to a book that had a domestic violence storyline weaved into it and well, ya know people will insist on trying to say I'm the new you and accuse me of being a copycat and all. For the record I'm not. I'm the first me. You are the only you.)
But it was definitely grittier, and that damn serious word.
So anyway, I waited with baited breath for 'The Brightest Star in the Sky' - and it intrigued me. From the outset I wondered who these people were and was I supposed to care for them? I liked Maeve and Matt - just so as you know. And Katie too. Lydia I liked, but she would scare the shite out of me if I ever met her in real life.
By about page 200 I was hooked (sorry to say it did take me a while) but I had a sinking feeling, Marian because I knew something big and, well, serious, was going to happen.
And it did.
And it was perhaps the most powerful piece of writing I have ever read.
I felt physically sick. I felt shocked me to my core. I felt I wanted to make it better. I felt I wanted a glimmer of hope and then, you see, you did it. It gave us that hope - that new beginning.
And this is perhaps the crux of the matter. Your writing, the last few books, have been a sort of new beginning - an evolvement of your writing. You grew up - as did I and it was unfair of me to expect otherwise.
I'm glad you did. I loved the book - and it's one that will stay with me for a very, very long time.
My verdict to any of your readers who just aren't sure about whether or not to read this? Go for it. Just expect more than you have before and open your eyes to the power of a story which will touch your heart beyond words.
Marian, I am sorry I ever doubted you.



Keris said...

Hooray! And I completely agree. I think I'll email you about this actually. Don't want to 'spoiler' for anyone.

Debs Riccio said...

Oh crikey - am only at the beginning of this massive tome but looks like I'm gonna be in for an emotional ride - great review Claire - great letter - you should send it to the Queen herself (of Keyes I mean, not of Great Britain)

Claire said...

Ooh I was reading that with one eye open for fear of a plot spoiler - I'm about 3/4 through and now can't wait to find out what happens!

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