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.
"My heroines do not become beautiful elegant swans, they become confident ducks and get on with life."
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.