A joy to read, addictive as all heck, this has got to be my favourite book of 2019 thus far.
Marketed as “the funny, clever, big-hearted love story of the year”, Star Crossed by debut Australian author, Minnie Darke, has much hype to live up to. Usually it’s dangerous to set reader expectations so high, especially with an unknown writer but in this case, I’m pleased to report that not only does Darke meet expectations, she surpasses them.
Star Crossed is, at its core, a modern love story. Nick and Justine’s mothers were besties and the two children grew up side-by-side. But when Nick was eleven, his family moved to the other side of the country. The families stayed in touch for a few years and even met up for a shared holiday when Justine was fifteen. It was then that her devastating crush on Nick Jordan was born.
A decade later, Justine and Nick find themselves once again sharing the same city. Desperate to make Nick see she’s the woman for him, despite his super-model girlfriend, wannabe journalist Justine devises her cunning plan. Witness to Nick’s devotion to astrology, and in particular, his stars as foretold by Leo Thornbury, resident astrologist for the magazine at which Justine works, Justine decides destiny could do with a little nudge in the right direction. The results of Justine’s meddling are numerous, affecting not just hers and Nick’s lives, but a tapestry of other seemingly minor characters in the story.
It is Darke’s deft handling of these multiple narrative threads and the story that emerges from the convergence of all their individual trajectories that really sets this novel apart. It is clever, funny, moving and exceedingly well written. As the narrative draws towards its conclusion, all the threads pull tight, enabling each character to play their part in a stupendously satisfying way. The main characters are relatable, lovable and frustrating in wonderfully human ways, and the effect of all the minor characters making decisions based on Justine’s horoscope has the overall effect of showing that bigger forces (whatever you want to label them) truly are at work in our lives.
Even as a horoscope skeptic, I adored this book. If you’re already a horoscope devotee, you’re sure to love the intricate detail and research that Darke has incorporated into her tale. Compared to the likes of Marian Keyes, that is a fair assessment as this big story with its even bigger heart and presentation of a slice of life from varied perspectives that even includes a dog character, is simply unputdownable. A joy to read, addictive as all heck, this has got to be my favourite book of 2019 thus far. I might even start checking my stars from now on.
Reviewed by Samantha Bond
Distributed by: Penguin Random House Australia
Released: March 2019
RRP: $32.99 trade paperback