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.
Ella Brady first dined at Quentins when she was a poised six-year-old and only child of Tim, who worked for an investment broker, and Barbara, a legal secretary, but in her 20s she met Don Richardson, a handsome financier, noted philanthropist, and married him. Ella wasn’t worried about it, as she was badly smitten. But Don was no good—he embezzled his clients’ money as well as that of Tim Brady, who’d been impressed with him—then fled to Spain with his family. Determined to pay her parents back what they’d lost, Ella quits her job as a poorly paid teacher and starts tutoring the memorable twins introduced in Scarlet Feather (2001) as well as working at Quentins, and helping filmmaker friends Nick and Sandy. When Ella comes up with an idea that’s accepted by the prestigious King Foundation in the US—to illustrate the changes in Ireland by telling the story of Quentins—the story detours into key moments in the restaurant’s history: its founding by Quentin Barry, a restaurant employee with big dreams who was helped by an unexpected gift; the hiring as manager and chef of childless couple Brenda and Patrick Brennan; Mon Harris, an Australian waitress, falling in love and marrying a customer; and Nora—the Signora from Evening Class (1997), back from Italy—having her new love celebrated in best Quentins style. Meanwhile, Ella, in New York, meets Derry King, head of the King Foundation, who accompanies her home when she learns that Don has apparently committed suicide—leaving her with his computer, which contains incriminating documents. Ella is soon in danger as Don’s henchman stalks her, but handsome Derry helps, as do all the crew at Quentins.
A leisurely paced treat, filled with holiday goodwill.