ECHOES by Maeve Binchy
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Light a Penny Candle (1983) was Binchy's full-bodied, chewy tale about two women and their wavering marital and sexual fortunes; this more upbeat, but equally warming novel takes place mostly in an Irish village, and parallels the struggles of two women (from 1950 on) to shake off the shackles of family obligation and small-town hierarchical mores. ""You could get anywhere you wanted, Clare,"" says spiky, irreverent ""spinster"" teacher Angela O'Hara to ten-year-old Clare O'Brien, her student at the convent school in the small resort town of Castlebay. But not easily, Angels would agree, for like Clare, Angela had come from a poor, uneducated family--uneducated, that is, except for her cosseted brother Sean, a priest and apple of his mother's eye. Sean is a missionary in Japan, while Angela cares for her crippled mother. Clare is one of a shopkeeper's family of six, where for girls, homework ranks a low second to peeling potatoes. How nice it would be to live in a house like that of doctor's son David Power--with books and calm and a place to read! During the summer, townies and the upper crust mingle and there're some wild goings-on in a cave with David, his friend Nolan, and curiously attractive photographer's son Gerry Doyle--and local girls, like Clare's coarse sister Chrissie. But Clare sticks to her aims, and Angela will tutor her on to glory via two scholarships. Clare is increasingly drawn apart from her family, although she will eventually unburden herself of the crushing knowledge that brother Tom--illiterate, crime-prone--is in a London jail. And Angela's ""poor, stupid fool"" of a brother Scan has left the priesthood, married a Japanese woman, sired two kids. Angela must now both protect her mother and protect Scan from Castlebay. Angela and Clare find love, and after cliff-edge emotional crises (in Clare's case, disillusion and a night of terror), discover at last a belonging and a comfortable acceptance within dreams deferred and reshaped. With a generously peopled locale that quickly becomes the reader's home town, and dialogue that fairly purrs off the page, a comfy companion to Light a Penny Candle, and bound to be as successful.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1985
ISBN: 0451225104
Publisher: Viking