Maeve Binchy imagined a street in Dublin with many characters coming and going, and every once in a while she would write about one of these people. She would then put it in a drawer; “for the future,” she would say. The future is now.
Across town from St. Jarlath’s Crescent, featured in Minding Frankie, is Chestnut Street, where neighbors come and go. Behind their closed doors we encounter very different people with different life circumstances, occupations, and sensibilities. Some of the unforgettable characters lovingly brought to life by Binchy are Bucket Maguire, the window cleaner, who must do more than he bargained for to protect his son; Nessa Byrne, whose aunt visits from America every summer and turns the house - and Nessa’s world - upside down; Lilian, the generous girl with the big heart and a fiancé whom no one approves of; Melly, whose gossip about the neighbors helps Madame Magic, a self-styled fortune-teller, get everyone on the right track; Dolly, who discovers more about her perfect mother than she ever wanted to know; and Molly, who learns the cure for sleeplessness from her pen pal from Chicago...
Chestnut Street is written with the humor and understanding that are earmarks of Maeve Binchy’s extraordinary work and, once again, she warms our hearts with her storytelling.
©2014 Random House Audio; 2014 Maeve Binchy
“Gives us one last extraordinary look at ordinary people as they struggle with family relationships, romances gone awry, and the possibility for a better future. . . . One finds here insightful observations about human nature—all with Binchy’s thoughtful and loving touch that will be sorely missed.” —Publishers Weekly
“Binchy was well-known for creating realistic characters who interact in ordinary ways, in ordinary places. . . . Her many fans are sure to line up to read this.” —Booklist
Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.
First, I should say I’ve read most of Maeve Binchy’s books and am a big fan. However, this volume, published after her death, might better be considered an unfinished work. It’s a collection of 36 stories, only loosely connected by the street on which some of the characters live (in some cases it’s a tangential connection). Most of the stories end rather abruptly, and knowing Binchy’s previous work, I expect she would have connected some of the stories and characters, and possibly have fleshed out some of the characters and expanded some stories had she lived to help in the editing process.
Certainly she would have brought some element into the book to redeem the otherwise gloomy outlook. Of the 36 stories, there are but three that might be considered optimistic. These are all character studies of mostly sad, wronged women who work hard and are continually disappointed in their relationships with parents, siblings, friends, and especially men. The men, in all but four of these stories, are drunks, gamblers, philanderers, drug dealers, unethical businessmen, workaholics, neglectful and cheating husbands and boyfriends, and absent fathers.
The narrator has a pleasant Irish accent, but she also has a lisp that is sometimes distracting, and there is no attempt made at differentiating characters through voice; so they all sound exactly alike.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I discovered the Irish writer and playwright, Maeve Binchy about 8 years ago. I enjoyed her stories loaded with wisdom and warmth, I soon learned that was the hallmark of her fiction. Binchy died about two years ago. I was so sad that no more great stories would be coming from her. But lo and behold, when her husband, Gordon Snell, was sorting her papers he found a collection of short stories she wrote over many years in her spare time. The common denominator of the stories was the protagonists all lived on Binchy’s fictional Dublin Chestnut Street. Binchy’s publisher put them altogether and published them in this posthumous book. We have a cast of characters including the lonely, the unfulfilled, and the dispossessed troop across the page, along with bricks, good eggs, late starters, and generally anyone who can give the rest of us a glimmer of hope. Maeve’s characters include nurses, shopkeepers, window cleaners, teachers, and various salt of the earth characters as true to life here as they are out in the street. There are also, of courses, the deadbeat men, the unfaithful, men abandoning their wives or girlfriends after birth of their child. I have read that Binchy had an unhappy love affair with a married man in her twenties; rarely can personal unhappiness have been put to such fruitful professional use. We all know tragic characters are considerably more interesting than happy ones. My favorite story in the book was “Fair Exchange” a woman about sixty and a twelve year old boy decide to help each other out. The twelve year old will provide the woman with lesion on how to use her new computer and she will give him cooking lesions along the way they developed a deep mutual respect: “you’ve so bright Ivy said wistfully, your young mind is like a sponge—you take everything in…’ ‘Yours isn’t bad either,’ Sandy said, ‘it’s a bit deeper than mine, actually’.” Maeve Binchy was famous for her narrative journalism for the “Irish Times.” She published her first work of fiction in 1978, it was a collection of short stories “Central Hire”, perhaps it’s fitting that this last book also contains short stories. Sile Bermingham did a good job narrating the book.
This book reminds me of Maeve Binchy's previous book Minding Frankie. As with Minding Frankie, the book tells many stories of many people. I honestly lost track of who was who, what their story was and by the end of the book I had no idea who was connected to whom, how, and what the point of the whole book was except for compiling a myriad of short stories into one.
A week after I had finished this book, a friend mentioned this book to me and I didn't remember that I had just read it. I thought maybe I had read the excerpt but not the whole book! I checked my audible app and sure enough I had listened to the whole thing!
So now I'm wondering....What was the plot? Was there one? Did I go into a deep coma and miss the whole book? Did each story of betrayal become one story on repeat and my brain shut-off? The only feeling this book left me with was a feeling that anyone I love will inevitably cheat, betray and leave me...because that's what happens to each of the main characters in this book.
I've read many of Maeve's books, and each book seems to have this similar tale of love, betrayal, healing and forgiveness. Unfortunately, I think this was a poorly constructed book and I'm sorry this is probably the last book that will be published by Maeve Binchy.
I cannot recommend this book, but if you are a Maeve Binchy fan you may as well listen to it. Maybe you'll have more patience or understanding and can explain it to me.
Hi all. I'm in my 50's (that's relevant, i think), and I favor fiction. I like the british sensibility, and was introduced to the Forsyte Saga through audible ... loved it! I happen to also like Chinese writers, but they are not well represented yet at audible. Looking to follow readers with similar tastes ...
This book is a collection of short vignettes, written in Maeve Binchy's comfortable, common folk style. Not as good as her full length novels, but I feel lucky that this one was compiled at this late date. I would recommend.
I enjoy mysteries, NOT thrillers, contemporary fiction, especially about diverse cultures, and sometimes history, if it doesn't involve too many dates. I often listen to a book multiple times, discovering unnoticed details in the retelling.
yes. I love Maeve Binchy's stories. They're about real people and especially the importance of connecting with others.
Other titles by Maeve Binchy. Her writing is truly unique, and the villages and neighborhoods she writes about are places I aspire to be one day.
She's wonderful with the different characters and accents. You can tell that she understands the intent of each story and the attitudes of each character.
I'm truly sorry that Maeve is no longer with us. I've listened to everything available in audiobooks, and now I'll try to hunt down each of her other titles in paperback.
Science gal, New Orleanian, Foodie, Bibliophile, Dog Mom
Why in the world would Audible hire a narrator who had a lisp? I tried to get past it, but it bothered me so much that I had trouble concentrating on the story. I made a note of her name so I won't make the mistake of buying something she narrated again.
It was a little disjointed.
Her lisp drove me insane!
I usually love Maeve binchey however this was random incomplete stories not connected. I do not recommend anyone to purchase this "story ".
A charming portrayal of the lives and loves of the residents of Chestnut Street. Maeve Binchy has again populated a book with a variety of characters with interesting pasts.
The courage of the decent everyday person.
The Lilac Bus, a previous book of short stories by Binchy.
Hard to choose.
Fools and Wisewomen, alternately.
I am so happy we have a final chance to enjoy the storytelling of Maeve Binchy. No other author can tap into the spirit of everyday people like she can. She especially addresses the woman who sacrifices herself for others and ungrateful children and in many of these stories, the downtrodden triumph when they stand up for themselves. I will sorely miss her talent.
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