Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations



by Maeve Binchy

Reviewed November 10, 2002.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2002 (#2, Fiction)
Dutton, New York, 2002.  359 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (F BIN)

What is it about Maeve Binchy’s books that keeps me reading them when I definitely should go to bed?  Fortunately, this one was shorter than some, and I was able to finish by 1:00 AM, instead of giving up at 3 AM with the book still unfinished as I remember doing with Tara Road.

My biggest complaint about Maeve Binchy’s books is that she doesn’t have a high view of marriage.  I’ve said that you can tell which marriages are doomed in her stories, because those are the only marriages that look good at the start of the book.  I was happy to discover that this book was different in that regard.  In fact, in this book she brings in several happy couples that we already knew and enjoyed from her previous books and we see them continuing to prosper.  This wouldn’t be the best Maeve Binchy book to start with, since you’ll enjoy it more if you already know the characters introduced from Evening Class, Tara Road, and Scarlet Feather.

The book does start out with Ella Brady having an affair with a married man.  This isn’t presented as a good thing and is what causes most of the problems and conflicts in the book.  I’m getting where I can recognize the Handsome Man Who Will Act Like a Skunk in her books.  I can’t help but wonder if there was once a man like that in Maeve Binchy’s life and now she gets revenge on him in every book….  However, although the romantic villain is much the same in each book, her nice characters are full of variety, with each one absolutely delightful.

I think that’s what I like so much about Maeve Binchy’s book—the warm and delightful people with whom she populates them.  This book is especially nice because many of our old friends come back, and we’re glad to see them again and spend time in their company.

The title is the name of Quentins Restaurant in old Dublin.  Characters in all the previous books have been going to Quentins for special events and important moments in their lives.  Ella Brady gets the idea of making a documentary film about Quentins to show how Dublin has changed over the years.  She gathers stories of customers and important moments in their lives.  We learn about the mysterious Quentin who owns the restaurant and more about the capable Brenda and Patrick Brennan and the secret to Brenda’s ability to know so much about people.

Maeve Binchy writes about people, their lives, their loves, their follies and their dreams.  I like the extra stories about the Quentins customers woven in with Ella’s dramatic and tumultuous experiences.  This is a heart-warming book and I think my favorite of all Maeve Binchy’s books that I’ve read so far.

Reviews of other books by Maeve Binchy:

Nights of Rain and Stars
Heart and Soul
Minding Frankie
A Week in Winter
Chestnut Street
A Few of the Girls
Maeve's Times

Amazon links to other Maeve Binchy books:

Evening Class
Tara Road
Scarlet Feather

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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