Books by Maeve Binchy

A FEW OF THE GIRLS by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 2016

"The best reflect Binchy's warmhearted sympathy for yearning and regret."
An uneven collection by the prolific Binchy (Maeve's Times, 2014, etc.).Read full book review >
MAEVE'S TIMES by Maeve Binchy
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Oct. 30, 2014

"A blithe, entertaining collection that will surely delight Binchy's many fans."
Newspaper pieces by a prolific novelist and playwright. Read full book review >
CHESTNUT STREET by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 6, 2014

"For Binchy aficionados, a late indulgence; for others, slim pickings."
A variable, posthumous collection of loosely linked short stories from the much cherished Irish writer who died in 2012. Read full book review >
A WEEK IN WINTER by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 14, 2013

"While Binchy's stories are sketchier than usual, perhaps understandably rushed, her fans will find solace as hearts mend and relationships sort themselves out one last time."
The beloved, prolific Binchy's posthumous last novel is classic Binchy (Minding Frankie, 2011, etc.), peeking into the lives of characters from various walks of life brought together at a newly opened inn on the West Coast of Ireland. Read full book review >
MINDING FRANKIE by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 2011

"Binchy remains the queen of spiritual comfort, but this time round she's stretched interest thin with ups and downs too many and too mild."
A Dublin neighborhood full of many of the characters who frequently pass through Binchy's Irish novels (Heart and Soul, 2009, etc.) bands together to help a young single father raise his daughter. Read full book review >
HEART AND SOUL by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 2, 2009

"Binchy has her formula down pat, and only a curmudgeon could resist this master of cheerful, read-by-the-fire comfort."
A Dublin heart clinic, full of romantic and family crises in need of healing, provides the apt setting for Binchy's latest (Whitethorn Woods, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
WHITETHORN WOODS by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 9, 2007

"Her sentimental morality may be predictable, but Binchy's lilting Irish zest is undeniably addictive."
Binchy (Quentins, 2002, etc.) inserts questions of faith into her usual romantic braid of multiple storylines, in this case concerning the troubled residents, former residents and descendents of residents of an Irish town where an obscure shrine faces demolition. Read full book review >
QUENTINS by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 28, 2002

"A leisurely paced treat, filled with holiday goodwill."
With some familiar characters amid the new, Binchy offers a sweetly affirming—with just enough redemptive vinegar—read in the story of Quentins, a hot Dublin restaurant. Read full book review >
SCARLET FEATHER by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 5, 2001

"More a buffet with lots of variety and a few standouts than a thematically distinctive menu, but Binchy still serves up a narrative feast."
Another entertaining tale of contemporary Ireland with a big gathering of representative types—the addicted, the lonely, the unhappy—whose lives connect as two chefs start a catering business and cope with crises in work and love. Read full book review >
TARA ROAD by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 2, 1999

Once again, Binchy (The Glass Lake, 1995, etc.) memorably limns the lives of ordinary people caught in the traps sprung by life and loving hearts. When Danny Lynch and his young bride-to-be Ria Norris buy No. 16, a large, derelict Victorian house, Tara Road is a rundown Dublin street. Lovingly restored, the house soon becomes a gathering place as neighbors stop by to chat, help out, or eat one of Ria's delicious meals. Ria has loved handsome Danny, a realtor who works for high-flying property tycoon Barney McCarthy, since first meeting him. She enjoys managing her busy domestic life and two children, Annie and Brian; her friends, like Gertie, whose husband beats her; Colm, who's opened a restaurant nearby and worries about his drug-addicted sister; and Rosemary, a beautiful, unmarried businesswoman who owns one of No. 32's new apartments. But the summer when Annie is fourteen and Brian nine, Ria learns that Danny has been dallying with a "fancy woman," now pregnant with his child, and that he wants to marry her. Stunned, Ria impulsively accepts an American woman's surprise telephone request to trade houses for the summer. Marilyn, living in New England, is married but still mourning the death of her teenaged son, Dale, and covets time alone. Once ensconced in her Connecticut home, Ria soon makes new friends, finds work as a caterer, and even begins dating—while also learning the truth about Dale's death. Meanwhile, in Dublin, Ria's pals continue to drop in, at first overwhelming Marilyn, who gradually involves herself in their lives, grows a garden, and discovers one friend's unsuspected betrayal of Ria. The two women, each strengthened by her season abroad, meet briefly before Marilyn flies home. Grateful for one another's support, each feels less heart-sore and more hopeful of happiness ahead. One of Binchy's best. (Book-of-the-month main selection; author tour) Read full book review >
EVENING GLASS by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1997

Binchy (The Copper Beech, 1992, etc.) once again nets a flock of middle- and lower-middle worriers, loners, and groaners, all brooding on their peculiar miseries, until an updraft of love or happy coincidences sets them free. Here, the transforming agent is an evening class in Italian taking place in a barracks-like school in a run-down Irish neighborhood. Heading the list of the forlorn is 48-year-old Aidan, a teacher of Latin who dreams of Italy. His marriage is loveless, his daughters distant, and he is being bumped as a candidate for a principal's position by a heavy-drinking rouÇ. Then there's Nora O'Donoghue, now 50. In a remote Sicilian village, Nora had been for years a backstreet love of the man she followed to Italy—a man who'd been forced to marry another. When he was killed in an accident, she returned to Ireland and eventually, as ``Signora,'' came to teach in the evening school that Aidan now hopes to make into a success. He does, and blighted lives begin to bloom. The Signora tutors a young failure who begins to percolate in school. The boy's sister is in love with a lad who does lucrative jobs for a crime syndicate; Signora sees that the crooked becomes straight. Among other classmates whose lives become bright and new: a bank clerk who, saddled with a dippy fianceÇ and a retarded sister, discovers the worth of being needed; an earnest young girl who learns the truth about her sacrificing sister and meets her father; and a childlike hotel porter whose innocence brings some pleasant surprises. At the close, all the classmates, as well as Aidan and Signora, take a viaggio to Italy, and there's love all around, with only a brace of female meanies left in the cold. Satisfying as any happy-dust tale in which joyful conclusions are foreordained. A Binchy shoo-in. (First serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild main selection; TV satellite tour) Read full book review >
THIS YEAR IT WILL BE DIFFERENT by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

A collection of Christmas-centered feel-good tales about love and family snarls in the season of comfort and joy. All are rendered in Binchy's popular unglossed style (The Glass Lake, 1995, etc.), and set in England, Ireland, and Australia. Some of the 15 tales have to do with unwise, innocent women carrying torches for the married lovers who take them for granted. Most eventually find the strength to douse the torch they've been carrying and let their own light shine—one is helped along by the plight of a loveless teenager and a sad gambler who's lost all. There are also abrasive relationships with children. In ``The First Step of Christmas,'' a resentful, neglected stepdaughter is lured home by a simple holiday tradition. Two single men with wayward adult children find mutual support and insight in ``A Typical Irish Christmas,'' and two singles in their 50s fly to Australia to meet their children's spouses for the first time—and discover each other along the way. Included as well are amusing tales about ditsy-to-just-plain-awful grannies. In ``A Season of Fuss,'' adult children foolishly try to curb their mother's towering nervous flights of preparation for the holidays. In ``The Best Inn in Town,'' two crazy grandmothers—one with ``a lip that curled all on its own,'' the other possessing ``a tinkling laugh that would freeze the blood''—are about to be dumped in a local inn. But the grandchildren, used to ``the natural order of things'' at Christmastime, have a better idea. There are marital reconciliations, too, and, in the sourly amusing title story, a long-suffering housewife, a good old reliable preparer and supplier of Christmas jollity, plans a surprise for her dense family that will resonate far beyond Christmas. In all, an appropriate gift for the casual reader—a bit of sentimentality and a touch of romance, along with humor and hopeful turns to treat those with cases of the holiday blues. (Literary Guild featured alternate selection) Read full book review >
THE GLASS LAKE by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 21, 1995

Binchy (The Copper Beach, 1992, etc.) once again chronicles friends and neighbors in village and town, but here she elongates her tale into a 592-page taffy pull. It's all about a woman who deserts husband and children for a handsome lover, is dead to her family and village, but blossoms in the big city and touches her daughter's life. The McMahon household—kind, dull pharmacist Martin; daughter Kit; and son Emmett—are mourning wife and mother Helen. Dreamy, restless, fond of long walks, Helen apparently drowned in the local lake. But in fact she fled to London with blindingly handsome Louis Gray, ``the man she thought of...every time Martin made love to her.'' (Louis's bolt years before to marry a rich woman was, he said, ``a mistake.'') Helen, now ``Lena,'' pregnant by Louis (there will be a miscarriage), left a letter for Martin telling all. But young Kit, fearing that Mother might be a suicide and therefore not rate a church burial, burns the letter unread. In London, Lena makes a smashing success of a small employment agency, doing Good Works along the way. Louis is climbing in the hotel biz, but his philandering glands are humming again. Kit, a high schooler, is puzzled and pleased one day to have a letter from Lena, a self- styled ``friend of Helen,'' and a pen-palship develops. Will she ever know The Truth? Years pass, there are marriages and young love problems, and an old love sours. In the village the young folks fix up a moldering hotel for a grand ball. On the night of the ball, hidden in shadows—yup, you guessed it. The only genuinely touching tale here is that of a hermit nun who listens, as others can't, to the still, small voice of compassion. Top-heavy with coincidence, improbables, and sentiment. (Author tour) Read full book review >
THE COPPER BEECH by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 2, 1992

Another collection of related tales (as in this popular Irish author's The Lilac Bus, 1991) dealing with a varied clutch of people and their several life crises. The principals here are mainly natives of the village of Shancarrig, and some are former classmates at the school, a little stone building shaded by a copper beech. The time is roughly from the 1950's to 1969, when the school closes. The chronicles begin with the sad story of fragile (and only faintly fey) Maddy Ross, a junior assistant teacher, and her doomed love for a charismatic priest (who cheats the church as he cheats her). Among the other people whose stories are told: Maura Brennan, poor and good beyond imagining, who adores her Down's syndrome son, the legacy of a deserting husband; lonely Eddie Barton, who's carrying on a lie-padded pen-pal romance with a Scottish lass who has her own secret; the long-grieving Dr. Jims, who at last has a reconciliation with his son—the son whose birth took his wife's life; the childless Kellys who experience a miracle-through-death; lawyer Richard Hayes, who learns love the hard way; and a pair of lovers who triumph over knowledge of murder and scandal. At the end, the school building is to close, and who will be the new owners? Outsiders? Maddy Ross's unsavory cult? One of the school alums who carved initials in the beech? A parfait of sentiment and mostly happy endings. There are a few bright and snappy spots—but, in general, it's all heartwarming to the swelter point. (Book-of-the-Month Dual Selection for November) Read full book review >
THE LILAC BUS by Maeve Binchy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 7, 1991

From Binchy, that well-beloved chronicler of things Irish (as in Circle of Friends and Firefly Summer), eight thematically connected stories, plus four thrown in presumably for good measure. The whole lot testifies to this writer's continued fascination with ordinary people and their tics of character, and how their lives never straighten out but grow more bittersweetly convoluted by the heartbeat. A lilac-colored bus is what draws eight Dubliners together for the four-hour trip to and from the village of Rathdoon on the weekends. And a varied collection of souls they are, including: Nancy Morris, the world's stingiest woman, who by the end of her sorry story does not change her ways a bit; a bank porter named Mikey, who despite his habit for telling off-color jokes badly, and for his generally hang-doggish self-presentation, finishes first when he steps into his errant elder brother's shoes (and marriage); Celia, a big, strapping girl who comes up with an ingenious way of convincing her perpetually potted mam that it's time to take herself off to a dry-out clinic; and Rupert, an earnest young fellow who tiptoes out of the closet when he at last determines to bring his male lover home to meet his stodgy, aging parents. Meanwhile, the Dublin Four stories that close the collection, about a very nervous country girl come to the city, a betrayed wife in pursuit of vengeance, and others, suffer from their lack of connecting fiber, and on occasion simply go on for too long. A big plate of mixed appetizers for Binchy fans, some of them nicely concentrated character studies, others predictable and flat. Read full book review >
CIRCLE OF FRIENDS by Maeve Binchy
Released: Jan. 30, 1990

Another Blarney charmer from the irrepressible Binchy set, as many of her recent efforts (like Firefly Summer, 1988) have been, in an Irish village—called Knockglen—circa 1960. As usual, Binchy brings her habitat to life warmly, fully, and from the viewpoints of myriad cottagers, including a funny Irish-Italian restauranteur who aims to become Knockglen's Mr. Big; the stiff hotel proprietress whose passion is corsets; the looney butcher; and, above all, Eve Malone and Benny Hogan, the village's Mutt and Jeff. In Binchy's hands, their adolescence is a tender thing, full of hushed discussions about babies, bellybuttons, and nuns. Eve is an orphan, abandoned by the classy, Protestant Westward family and raised with a great deal of love by Mother Francis at St. Mary's Convent. Benny's the adored daughter of a Knockglen merchant, though "no one on earth" feels as "cooped up and smothered" as she does. At 18, it's off to University College in Dublin for the two young women, where they team up with ambitious vixen Nan Mahon, and where Benny falls hopelessly in love with campus heartbreaker Jack Foley. Amazingly, though, Jack returns her affection—or seems to, until Nan gets her hooks into him, since she's got herself pregnant by Knockglen squire Simon Westward and needs a stand-in daddy. Benny's sheltered childhood comes to a close not only because she loses Jack, but because her father dies suddenly of a heart attack during teatime, leaving Benny to sort things out at the shop. Meanwhile, Eve befriends Simon Westward's lonely little sister, which forces her to come to terms with her familial past. . .and life in Knockglen goes on. Binchy's at her impish best playing telephone amongst the villagers, reporting the wildly disparate ways they process events. Only eejits wouldn't find this companionable. Read full book review >