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A Cherished Novelist
Maeve Binchy died last year at the age of 72 and her last novel, A Week in Winter, was published posthumously in February 2013. After being a teacher and a journalist, Binchy started writing novels reflecting the Irish everyday way of life but also tackling worldly subjects such as family relationships , female struggles, love affairs and friendships. Her compassion and generosity are embodied in her characters, who become your friends as you live through their crises. We'll sorely miss her poignant family sagas set in Dublin and in quaint Irish villages; her talent and forte was to create a special bond between her readers and her characters.
Her Last Novel
A Week in Winter takes place in a small town situated on the West Coast of Ireland. All the characters in the novel are either family members, friends, or guests of Chick Starr, a young charming woman who decides to transform an old mansion into a restful, getaway inn. All trying to escape life's hardships, the characters' individual stories are streamlined and deftly integrated so that the reader can follow smoothly along, sympathizing with them at times and loathing them at others.
Maeve Binchy's work has been translated into 37 different languages and more than 40 million copies of her novels and short story collections have been published. She was a prolific writer , her fame and impact not only due to her heartrending romances but also to her depiction of the Irish culture, the social stratification of the Irish society, and life in Dublin, small towns, and villages.
Binchy has characters reappear in several of her novels, including Evening Class (1996), Tara Road (1998), Scarlet Feather (2000), Quentins (2002), and Nights of Rain and Stars (2004) . The readers really enjoy meeting them again, as it gives them a sense of belonging, complicity, and a special emotional attachment to the story . In A Week in Winter (seven years after Evening Class), her endearing Italian character "Senora" is a guest at Chick's inn, a wink to her faithful readers!
Maeve Binchy became very famous in the United States with the Hollywood movie Circle of Friends featuring Chris O'Donnell and Colin Firth. Insightful and witty, this story recounts the tumultuous friendship of three young adults in a Dublin College.
In 2007, Tara Road with Andie McDowell became a great success as well. The film was faithful to the compassionate story of two women swapping houses and lifestyles to overcome tragedy and deceit.
How about You? with Vanessa Redgrave was filmed in Ireland and based on a short story from the collection This Year It Will Be Different (1995), a charming , witty and entertaining moment to spend with her engaging characters.
Most of Maeve Binchy's work is available in the San Mateo County Library system. Pick one of the movies or books mentioned above or another title in the catalog for a sweet summer of reading!
Photo credit: Liam White
Jocelyne C. is an extra-help library assistant at the Atherton, Portola Valley, and Woodside libraries. When she visited Ireland, she could not help looking for a lilac bus, a restaurant named Quentins, a certain Tara Road...