In a small Minnesota mining town, young Krissa is sheltered from her violent father by Danny, the brother she idolizes. Danny, a budding musician, is determined to escape with his sister in tow. When the pair finally succeed, they meet Quinn, a privileged and wealthy college student. Drawn together by a passion for music, Danny and Quinn set up a successful pop group. As their stars begin to rise, Danny falls in love with fame, and Quinn and Krissa fall in love with each other. But the higher Danny, Quinn and Krissa climb, the faster their worlds crumble, until they part. Sixteen years later their paths cross once again, three fallen stars. Danny is gravely ill. Quinn and Krissa are still in love. But to hear the music again, the three must face their joined pasts and use the lessons to create a better future.
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Kathleen Gilles Seidel's, 'Til the Stars Fall is a thinking woman's romance -- or rather a character and situational study wrapped in a romance. The novel's compelling structure begins in medias res, then the story unfolds in flashbacks and flash-forwards with dates, interspersed with amusing quotes from the (fictional) press. Certain critical incidents hang in the air, and the story swings back and forth in time, like a pendulum finally narrowing in on the question of how we got here. Dilemmas grow not from artificial misunderstandings that could be resolved with a simple phone call, but from complex characters, their conflicting desires and their very real mistakes. The book is a pleasure to read. Deeply felt but difficult to describe subjects like love, sex, and music require well-crafted analogies, and Seidel has a way with extended metaphors, piling meaning on meaning, carrying them to conclusions that seem at once surprising and just right. The sex is well written, not trite or florid, neither the whole point of the book nor loaded in gratuitously; rather, it is well-integrated, used to mark turning points in the characters' relationships and to advance the plot. Perhaps the greatest joy in the book comes from the juxtapositions. Seidel throws together a variety of melieux: from Minnesota mining country to Baltimore upper crust society, Princeton privilege, and the rarefied world of rock superstardom. (Having experience in one of these words, I can vouch for its authenticity, and I'm willing to bet the others are as carefully-researched, detailed and well-drawn.) She presents a similar variety of métiers: honest labor, intellectual passion, musical ecstasy, meticulous medicine, fine sewing, and crafting a home, whether pedigreed or humble. She describes a celebrity's limo and a pickup with a gun rack with equal interest and purpose. None of these worlds is treated with disdain while another is elevated. Each has its draws and its flaws, and it is in their intersections that the story unfolds. (Two of the most delightful examples are the Ivy-educated songwriter reading 16th century poetry to figure out how to express the raw sexuality in his partner's music, or the two college-dropout rock stars on tour, starved for mental nourishment, devouring their sister/girlfriend's textbooks instead of drugs or groupies.) Refreshingly, the novel contains no over-the-top villains, just real people grappling with various degrees of selfishness, while trying within their particular circumstances to discover who they are, what they want, and where love fits into it all. It makes cozy yet compelling reading.