Friday, August 3, 2012

Thanks, Maeve

Irish writer Maeve Binchy died last Monday at the age of 72.

She'll live on through her books and the memorable characters she created like Benny Hogan (Circle of Friends), the awkward small-town girl who makes a place for herself at university and in the city; Signora Nora O'Donoghue (Evening Class), who left her heart in Italy but builds a new life for herself in her native Ireland; and Ania (Heart and Soul), the Polish immigrant whose broken heart is healed in a most unlikely place: a Dublin heart clinic. Binchy's heroes and heroines are everyday people who tap into reserves of strength and character they didn't know they possessed.

Her rogues are everyday people, too, and their sins tend to be selfishness and self-absorption. Those failings might not appear dramatic, but they're more than enough to crush spirits and destroy families.

Binchy's novels and short stories showed the effects of the diaspora, urbanization, the boom and bust cycle, and the changes wrought by immigration into Ireland. She was neither twee nor nostalgic.

From Binchy, I learned we cab survive our disappointments, mistakes, and even our upbringing. We can reinvent ourselves.

Read S. J. Driscoll's tribute to Binchy. Then, click on the video below to hear Binchy talk about writing.

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Finally, re-read your favorite Binchy novel ,or, if you're not familiar with Binchy's work, order one of her collections of short stories such as Whitethorn Woods. If we read and re-read Binchy, we won't really have lost her.


Jennifer Jensen said...

Awww. I'll miss her, and miss looking forward to a new book. I think Evening Class was one of my favorites. Thanks so much for the tribute.

Ginger Calem said...

Fantastic tribute to the amazing Maeve. I loved many of her books and this will inspire me to reread one or check out one I missed.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Evening Class was one of my faves, too, Jennifer. Good news: there will be another book from Maeve Binchy. A Week in Winter is in the pipeline is is due out later this year.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Have you read Heart and Soul, Ginger? If not, your health-and-fitness-specialist-self will appreciate what the cardiac doctors are trying to accomplish, but you'll empathize with the patients who afraid to change. Ania, the Polish immigrant, is one of my favorite Binchy characters of all time.

Lark Howard said...

I listened to CIRCLE OF FRIENDS on tape years ago and instantly became a huge fan. She was truly a wonderful writer!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

I'm rereading Circle of Friends now, Lark, and am remembering the person I was when I read it the first time. Back then, I so wanted a happy ending for Benny. Now I understand that losing Jack cleared the way for her shot at happiness.

Coleen Patrick said...

I enjoyed the ones I read and look forward to checking out the ones I missed. Thanks for the tribute Pat and sharing her quote, “Nobody is ordinary if you know where to look." Love that.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Coleen! I love that quote, too. Thanks for stopping by.