Thursday, November 01, 2007

Yesterday I finished Whitethorn Woods, the latest book by Maeve Binchy.

Binchy's books don't fall into any of the categories of books I normally read but somehow I ended up reading one in the early 90s and I loved it. I quickly read the rest of her books and I read each new one as they come out. But there is an exception - I strongly prefer novels to short stories so I haven't read her collections of stories, and she has tended more and more towards short stories. Even her latest novels are really sequences of inter-related short stories, and Whitethorn Woods is no exception. There is a slight over-arching story about the fate of a local shrine, but that is clearly just an excuse to tell a number of vignettes about local characters in a small Irish town that is dealing with the challenges of a modernizing Ireland.

Binchy's books are all set in Ireland, and most deal with the tensions between the sexes, between the old and the new, between the rich and the poor and between the rural and the urban. She is excellent at creating sympathetic characters and showing them responding to very realistic challenges.

This book is good but I particularly recommend some of her earlier works, like The Copper Beech, Circle of Friends or Firefly Summer.

Amazon Link: Whitethorn Woods

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