Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mourning Maeve Binchy

I was sad to hear today that one of my favorite writers is no longer with us. Irish author Maeve Binchy passed away at the age of 72 with sixteen novels,four short story collections,a play and a novella under her belt,a nice tidy total indeed.

Of course,it's not really about the quantity,it's the quality of her work that endeared Ms. Binchy to an audience of readers that spanned the world. She was in such demand that when it was announced in 2000 that Scarlet Feather would be her last book,scores of people sent letters of protest to the Irish Times.

Naturally,Maeve did return to the literary world with Quentin's in 2002 and a few more novels,with her final one< A Week In Winter,due out before the end of this year.

Her first novel was Light a Penny Candle published in 1982 but most people discovered Maeve's warm words about life and love with Circle of Friends,which came out in 1990. Like many of her stories,this tale of three friends was set in Ireland near the fictitious town of Knockglen and focused on the choices facing the girls as they went off into the wider world.

As did many others,my favorite character here was Benny,the awkward large sized country girl who couldn't believe that a handsome city boy like Jack would fall truly in love with her and yet,she wasn't some meek and mild miss when it came to that relationship or any other.

Even with the 1950's setting of the story,Maeve brought strong female leads to the forefront and allowed them to rise or fall by their decisions in life. Circle of Friends was adapted for the movies in 1995,with Minnie Driver(in her film debut)and Chris O'Donnell,which complimented the source material rather well:

Binchy's talents were thrust under a bigger spotlight in 1999,when her novel Tara Road was chosen as a selection of Oprah's Book Club. The core concept of the plot was two women at crisis points in their lives who traded homes(and countries)to gain a fresh perspective on things proved to be popular,as it inspired other writers and film makers to do their own spin on that premise.

Tara Road was turned into a film by 2005,starring Andie McDowell and Olivia Williams,with Maeve doing an uncredited cameo in one scene. The movie played mostly overseas but is fortunately available on DVD and as I write this,it's on top of my Netflix queue and will hopefully not have too long a wait:

Maeve Binchy's appeal was based on the emotional connections that her characters made with the reader and what raised her work to a higher level of female friendly fiction,in my opinion.

I have many happy memories of enjoying the realistic yet hopeful society that she created,along with a personal recollection or two. When I was attending Weight Watchers many years ago,one of my rewards for doing well was a new nice edition of Evening Class(which I also own in paperback)and still have on my shelf.

My most emotional moment as a reader is due to The Glass Lake,where I actually spoke out loud in anger to one of the characters who was blaming her child for something that she should've taken care of herself! Wacky,yes but it was only for a minute or two and things did work out all right in the end for them both(I'm probably going to reread that one,now that I'm thinking about it).

That's how well developed Maeve's stories were,creating people as real as your family and friends whether they lived in Dublin,London or anywhere else. Those who simply thought that what she did was simple literary comfort food were quite mistaken about the matter:

My sincere condolences to Maeve Binchy's loved ones,who will no doubt miss her dearly,and to those who haven't read any of her books,there is no better time than now to give at least one of them a go. She was a great lady who knew the value of a life well lived and left such a wonderful legacy of words in her wake:

No comments: