Binchy knows Ireland, as she proved in Light a Penny Candle and Echoes; and once again, it's the full understanding love of the Irish that lights up her third novel, about the village of Montfern in the early 60's--a book that rolls out of its covers like clotted cream, richly but slowly, with Binchy taking her own sweet time to create a huge cast of characters. At the top of the list are Kate and John Ryan, Montfern pub-keepers, with a boisterous family of four, including the twins, Dara and Michael, little Declan, and the miscreant Eddie, collared for defacing a poster of Doris Day at the local cinema. Then there's the lawyer Slattery, single at 27 and silently carrying a torch for Kate; the sage postmistress, Mrs. Whelan, who knows all and says nothing; the canon's drunkard housekeeper, and the town whore. Into this small, humming world comes Patrick O'Neill, a rich Irish-American restauranteur with notions of reclaiming his heritage by rebuilding Ferncourt, the village great house, burned during the Troubles. His plans to turn Ferncourt into a fancy hotel threaten to put the Ryans out of business, and Worse--for Kate succumbs to a construction-site accident that paralyzes her. Still, O'Neill manages to seduce other villagers; likewise, his son and daughter seduce the local kids, with Dara falling in love with the mean-spirited Kerry, and Michael with darling Grace. Alas, O'Neill's efforts prove ill-fated, when fire strikes Ferncourt on its opening day. Except for the explosive finale, this is just too leisurely plotted to enthrall, though it should charm the many Binchy fans--provided they have lots of time on their hands.