A few months after I got married, I was walking through the mall and say a display of the book Circle of Friends, which had a movie-version cover on it and looked interesting. I flipped it open to the first page, immediately loved it, and bought it on the spot.
That’s how I discovered my favorite author, Maeve Binchy.
As much as I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to find anybody that I like as much, even when I tried authors who are supposed to be like her. I tried reading Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice and was bored to death and never finished it. I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (a book that I thought was highly overrated), but I thought it was way too twee and had boring characters who were most stereotypes and Mary Sue’s.
In fact, several years ago I got so frustrated trying to find an author that I liked as much as Maeve Binchy that I just went ahead and read these three of my favorites — not a small task, as they’re fairly thick books:
Anyway, about a month ago I discovered, to my amazement, that she had an early book that I had never read, The Copper Beech. I think I missed I thought it was one of her short story collections and that I had already read it, or read part of it.
I hadn’t read Maeve Binchy for over four years, when I read Minding Frankie and thought it was kind of meh. So it was a real treat to curl up (you have to “curl up” when you read Maeve Binchy) and enjoy this one.
Basically, the story is about the little Irish town of Shancarrig in the 1950’s and the people who live there and what happens to them over the years. In a way, this is a series of separate stories, but the characters do intertwine a fair amount, so it does read like a complete novel, although it’s not as linear as most of her others. As usual, I was disappointed when it was over because I felt like I would miss the town and all the people.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to try again to find an author that’s supposedly like her. Next up on my reading list is The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens. We’ll see how it stacks up.
If you’ve never read Maeve Binchy before and are thinking of giving her a try, do not start with one of her later books. You will never respect my opinion again. Everything after Tara Road (or maybe Scarlet Feather) is on a quick downward spiral.