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THIS YEAR IT WILL BE DIFFERENT by Maeve Binchy

THIS YEAR IT WILL BE DIFFERENT

and Other Stories

By Maeve Binchy

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-31503-1
Publisher: Delacorte

 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)