New novel ‘Love Actually’ meets the horoscopes

“Star-Crossed: A Novel” (Crown), by Minnie Darke

A journalist once considered adjusting her newspaper’s horoscope to help an astrology-devoted friend. She didn’t do it, but in her new novel, Minnie Darke imagines what happens when her lovesick protagonist acts on the same impulse she had. The result is an escapist delight.

“Star-Crossed” tells the story of Justine and Nick, astrology skeptic and believer, childhood friends who recently reunited. Justine is baffled by Nick’s faith in his horoscope: “I just think that if you want to play Romeo, you should play Romeo. You don’t have to twist the words of some stargazing nut to give yourself permission.” When she later gains access to the horoscopes at the newspaper where she works, Justine gets the idea to tinker with the Aquarius entries to nudge Nick into realizing his feelings for her. Needless to say, it doesn’t quite work out as she intends.

What follows is a “Love Actually”-esque menagerie of interconnected characters and subplots. The colorful figures include a jilted singer-songwriter; a divorced oncologist dating a male midwife; a widow with an extensive collection of commemorative Charles and Diana wedding china who is in a Skype relationship with someone on the other side of the world. It also includes a terrier/frequent animal shelter escapee whose inner thoughts readers are privy to, to this reader’s dismay. The way their tales all satisfyingly tie together in the end brings to mind the butterfly effect — the way small events can have significant consequences.

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In all, “Star-Crossed” is a light, fun read, with a creative spin on a winning rom-com formula.

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