Meet Justine. Star sign: Sagittarius. A serial grammar-corrector with a memory like an elephant, Justine is a long-time lover of vintage clothing, an aspiring journalist at the Alexandria Park Star, and a professed astrology sceptic. Now, meet Nick. Star sign: Aquarius. A serial day dreamer, a struggling actor, and a long-time devotee of the Alexandria Park Star’s horoscope section, Nick is a firm believer in the power of the stars to help determine his destiny.
Best friends during their formative years, Justine and Nick even enjoyed a brief fling as teenagers, but when their families moved away, the pair lost touch. In fact, Justine hasn’t seen Nick for twelve years when she bumps into him at her local market one balmy Friday night in March. She’s on the hunt for a quick meal to take home after work, and in true Nick fashion, he is dressed in a silver lamé fish suit, spruiking oysters for the market fishmonger.
As they reconnect over fish and chips in the park that night, it transpires that Nick is about to move into the apartment block next to Justine’s, and the pair’s easy friendship soon resumes. What doesn’t resume, however, is their passionate romance of yore: although Justine is single and still more than a little attracted to Nick, Nick himself is dating a snooty, long-legged model, and doesn’t seem the slightest bit interested in rekindling his relationship with Justine.
Justine is at her wit’s end. How can she possibly win back Nick’s heart? But just a few weeks later, the perfect opportunity presents itself: Justine earns a promotion at work, moving up the ranks to horoscope editor. Justine knows Nick relies devotedly on the Star’s horoscopes to guide him through life, and the temptation is too much to resist. Just before the horoscopes go to print each week, Justine makes a few, small tweaks to the Aquarius section, designed to help Nick both professionally and personally – and if the stars begin to point particularly towards a rekindled romance with a long-lost Sagittarian friend, who is Justine to argue?
But Nick isn’t the only Aquarian using the Star’s horoscopes to guide his life choices. As Justine and Nick grow closer, the effects of Justine’s astrological meddling begin to ripple outwards like a stone making waves on a pond, and a whole range of strangers who also look to the stars, find their lives changing in some very unexpected ways…
The new novel from Tasmanian-based author Minnie Darke, Star-crossed is a captivating, sparkling gem of a book. Chronicling the unexpected and far-reaching effects of Justine’s horoscope tinkering, as she attempts to open Nick’s eyes and heart using the power of the stars, the story is reminiscent of Marian Keyes at her best, with a cast of flawed yet utterly loveable characters, lots of witty dialogue, and a deftly written plot that makes some important points about human strengths and foibles.
Beyond the fabulously entertaining story of Justine and Nick, Star-crossed also introduces us to the other Aquarians whose lives change because of Justine’s horoscope tinkering, and these supporting characters – among them amateur astrologer Davina Devine, florist Fern Emerson, and singer Blessed Jones – are just as charmingly drawn as our heroine and hero. While many of the characters don’t initially seem to know each other, Darke connects them as the story progresses, and you’ll have fun weaving your way through the novel Love Actually-style, working out the puzzle of relationships between people.
Darke’s love for her characters is evident from page one, and it’s contagious: you’ll come to care deeply about them too, and we guarantee you’ll find yourself hoping against hope that each gets the happy ending they deserve. Darke has also crafted such a delightful world – the characters live in a homey, endearing fictional city reminiscent of Melbourne – that reading Star-crossed feels like being enveloped in a warm hug or a cosy blanket.
With effervescent prose and lashings of humour and heart, Star-crossed is a charming, intelligent story that plays compellingly with the ideas of fate and chance. Fans of Marian Keyes, Jojo Moyes and Cecelia Ahern will devour this big-hearted, feel-good read.
Minnie Darke – Gemini with Virgo Rising, Scrabble cutthroat and knitter, lover of books, freshly sharpened pencils and Russian Caravan tea – divides her time between her kitchen table and a rather cute writing studio in the backyard of her home in Hobart, Tasmania.