SHORT & SWEET REVIEW: A FEW OF THE GIRLS BY MAEVE BINCHY

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).

‘The Irish do love telling stories, and we are suspicious of people who don’t have long, complicated conversations. There used to be a rule in etiquette books that you should invite four talkers and four listeners to a dinner party. That doesn’t work in Ireland, because nobody knows four listeners.’ – Maeve Binchy

I’ve always had a soft spot for Maeve Binchy books. I remember reading Circle of Friends over and over in my early twenties – there was something about it that felt like I was catching up with old friends every time. My stepmother had a good collection of Binchy’s books, so I went through all of them, one after the other.  It’s been a while though. The much-loved author died in 2012 and I’m pretty sure her fans are missing her warm and charming stories of life, friendships and relationships in Ireland. If you count yourself in that group, get your hands on a copy of A Few of the Girls, a short story collection full of Binchy’s trademark warmth. Here’s the blurb:

Maeve Binchy’s bestselling novels not only tell wonderful stories, they also give an insight in to how Ireland has changed over the decades, but how people remain the same: they still fall in love, sometimes unsuitably; they still have hopes and dreams; they have deep, long-standing friendships, and some that fall apart. From her earliest writing to her most recent, Maeve’s work has included wonderfully nostalgic pieces and also sharp, often witty writing which is insightful and topical. But at the heart of all Maeve’s fiction are the people and their relationships with each other. A Few of the Girls is a glorious collection of the very best of her writing, full of the warmth, charm and humour that has always been an essential part of all of Maeve’s writing.

The blurb pretty much sums it up – the collection really is full of warm, witty, insightful and sweet stories. Some, like “The Custardy Case”, touch the heart (told from a young boy’s point of view, this was probably my favourite story); others offer hope and promise; and yet others take readers on a walk down memory lane.  I read most of the book in one sitting and enjoyed it, but after a while I did find the stories tended to blend into one another (Binchy tends to use the same name for different characters in different stories). I’d recommend savouring the stories over a longer period of time. Make a hot drink, grab a biscuit or two and take a break with a story or two.

As for me, I’m going to catch up with an old friend: time to re-read Circle of Friends.

Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Hachette.