Monday, December 20, 2021

Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke, a delightful romantic comedy

Title: Star-Crossed
Author: Minnie Darke
Publication: Crown, hardcover, 2019
Genre: Fiction
Setting: Present-day Australia
Description: When Justine, an aspiring journalist at the Alexandria Park Star, a quirky magazine, runs into her childhood friend Nick, trying to get his break as an actor, she is as smitten as she was at their last encounter as teens but is now more creative. Unfortunately, while Nick is delighted to see her, he is involved with a glamorous model who is trying to break him of penniless actor syndrome and bring him into her world. Nick, born under the sign of Aquarius, looks for life lessons and guidance in the horoscope of Justine’s magazine, so when she has the opportunity to slightly edit the monthly column, it seems not only logical but also essential, if she wants Nick to really see her. Alas, it seems as if everyone except Nick is following his or her horoscope guidance, and Justine’s continued editorial interference could jeopardize her career – if anyone finds out!

My Impression: This was an extremely enjoyable and light-hearted story that reminded me of Maeve Binchy in the way it followed not only the protagonists but also the random people (and a dog) whose lives intersect with them. Justine has a girl-next-door vibe so it is easy to sympathize with her, even when she takes advantage of her thankless job as dogsbody/administrative assistant at the magazine to edit Nick’s horoscope so that he is empowered to follow his acting aspirations and not get back together with a girlfriend who does not support those dreams.  
US paperback cover
Things get complicated when a new managing editor becomes interested in Justine and learns her secret. I liked the descriptions of the magazine and especially appreciated how Justine has been dumped on by all her colleagues for two endless years, yet when she finally gets promoted, the young man who inherits the position is elevated after just a few months – well, we’ve seen that happen before, right?

There are a lot of improbable coincidences but a skilled author like Darke makes these a convincing part of the plot, as when Nick moves into an apartment opposite Justine’s:
By means of some moderately accurate throwing of the basket, some semicoordinated catching of the ball of string and a bit of nifty knot-trying, Nick and Justine rigged a simple string loop that enabled the basket to be transferred to either side of the gap.

And so it came to pass that a lightbulb made the first recorded journey, by basket, to the twelfth-floor balcony of Evelyn Towers from the twelfth-floor balcony of its ugly neighbor, and a copy of the Alexandria Park Star made the inaugural journey in the opposite direction. And inside that magazine, running down the gutter edge of a verso page toward the back, were the horoscopes. By Leo Thornbury. Mostly.
I also enjoyed the Australian setting, although it is hard to say what made it different from books set in Britain. 
Australia cover - with basket!
Source: Library. Recommended - 4 ½ stars.


LyzzyBee said...

Oh, this does sound like a fun one, and cute covers, too!

Lory said...

Sounds delightful. I like the first cover the best.

TracyK said...

I don't think this book would be for me, but I liked your comment about the story also following random characters other than the main characters. That is something I like in stories too. I wonder if I would like Maeve Binchy's books?

CLM said...

Tracy, I think you will like the Binchys that are full of quirky characters rather than romance like Evening Class and Scarlet Feather. As I look at the list of her books, I think maybe I haven't read them all which is a lovely feeling!

Lyzzy and Lory, this book was definitely a feel good read. I wonder if people who take astrology seriously would be annoyed by it?