Evacuated from Blitz-battered London, Elizabeth White is sent to stay with the O'Connors in Ireland. It is the beginning of an unshakeable bond between Elizabeth and Aisling, a friendship which will endure through 20 turbulent years of change and chaos, joy and sorrow, soaring dreams, and searing betrayals. Maeve Binchy tells a magnificent story of the lives and loves of two women, bound together in a friendship that nothing can tear asunder - not even the man who threatens to come between them forever.
"Light a Penny Candle Review"
This is the story of two very different children growing up in a small Irish seaside town in the '50s and '60s. Shouting their hearts' desires into the echo cave, praying that their destiny will lead them far away from the town in which they live. Castlebay, in winter empty and grey with wind and sea spray, becomes all bustle and colour in the gaudy days of summer. The paths of these two characters are destined to criss-cross in a quite unforeseen way, and eventually both roads will lead back to Castlebay.
From the royal wedding to boring airplane companions, Samuel Beckett to Margaret Thatcher, "senior moments" to life as a waitress, Maeve's Times gives us wonderful insight into a changing Ireland as it celebrates the work of one of our best-loved writers in all its diversity - revealing her characteristic directness, laugh-out-loud humor, and unswerving gaze into the true heart of a matter.
The Mountainview School in working-class Dublin boasts a brightly festooned room brimming with paper flowers and Renaissance posters. There, in an evening class, "An Introduction to Italian," come Aiden Dunne, the supervisor, Signora, the professoressa, and 30 or so students, whose hopes and dreams are bound up in the Tuesday and Thursday lessons.
In 'Homecoming', read by Sean Campion, the Brennans run Quentin's restaurant in Dublin for the owner, who lives abroad. But what will happen when he suddenly pays a visit? 'Telling Stories', read by Joanna Myers, sees Irene's fiancé turning up the night before the wedding with a face as white as the dress that is to be worn the next day. Then trouble starts....
"Really enjoyed it."
World War II had begun, and London was being bombed. Most parents were sending their children to live with relatives in the countryside for safety's sake. But shy, delicate Elizabeth didn't have anyone nearby. Instead, she would have to go far away, to Ireland, to stay with an old classmate of her mother's - whom Elizabeth hadn't even met. Accustomed to a life of unspoken rules and quiet discipline, Elizabeth wasn't prepared for the large, boisterous O'Connor family.
"Good Adaptation, poor sound quality"
In the small Irish town of Knockglen, best friends Bernadette ('Benny') and Eve are inseparable. Benny is an adored only child, and Eve a poor, birdlike orphan brought up by nuns. On their first day at University College, Dublin, a fatal road accident brings the pair together with fellow students Nan Mahon and Jack Foley, and new friendships are quickly struck. Jack and Nan introduce Eve and Benny to a life of excitement and sophistication.
"Up there with the classics"
As a child Elizabeth is sent from her war-torn, rather loveless home in London to stay with a big, boisterous family in a small town in Ireland. There she meets Aisling and begins what becomes a long-lasting friendship. Over the next 20 years, Aisling and Elizabeth's paths will cross and recross. As they face their loves, their marriages, and their disappointments, they realise that not all problems will be solved,nor all wishes granted by lighting a penny candle.
In this extraordinary collection of stories, the world-wide best-selling author of Evening Class once again reveals her incomparable understanding of matters of the heart. In The Return Journey, Maeve Binchy creates powerful compelling stories of love, loss, revelation, and reconciliation.
The Italian evening class at Mountainview School is like hundreds of others starting up all over the city. But this class has its own special quality - as the focus for the varied hopes and dreams of teacher and pupils alike. Aidan Dunne needs his new evening class project to succeed almost as much as his pupils do. They too are looking for something more: Bill to find a way to keep spendthrift Lizzie at his side and Fran to make sure that young Kathy finds her way out from behind the kitchen sink.
"Vintage Maeve Binchy"
Gemma Garvey’s marriage has been over for ages. And it was Gemma’s choice to end it; her decision to go it alone with two kids, rather than pretend the marriage to career-obsessed David was working. So why is she so upset when he marries that flame-haired bimbo, Orla O’Neill? Is it that Orla’s nearer in age to Gemma’s teenage daughter than to herself? But for Orla, being wife number two isn’t all she’d imagined. And the trouble has only just begun.
"I love this author!"
Maeve Binchy's best-selling novels not only tell wonderful stories, they also give an insight into 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.
"Firefly Summer is warm, humorous, sad and happy. Reading it is a joy." (Irish Independent) In the summer of 1962, an American millionaire arrives in a small, sleepy Irish town with far-reaching consequences. For the children of the Ryan family, the long hot summers are usually spent playing in the ruins of a large, abandoned house. But when the American, Patrick O'Neill, buys the ruins, dreams are made and broken and secrets which should never be revealed are betrayed.
Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather have decided to create the best catering company in Dublin. They have the perfect premises, heaps of talent, and even a few contacts - but not everyone seems as pleased by the idea of 'Scarlet Feather' as they are. Tom's parents are disappointed that he has turned his back on the family business. Cathy's husband buries himself in work, becoming ever more distant, whilst his mother thinks Cathy should stay at home to look after him.
"Welcome to the world of Scarlet Feather"
Just round the corner from St Jarlath's Crescent (featured in Minding Frankie) is Chestnut Street. Here, the lives of the residents are revealed in Maeve Binchy's wonderfully compelling tales: Bucket Maguire, the window cleaner, who must do more than he bargained for to protect his son. Nessa Byrne, who's aunt comes to visit from America for six weeks every summer and turns the house - and Nessa's world - upside down. Lilian, the generous girl with a big heart, and the fiancé not everyone approves of.
A silver wedding means a family gathering, difficult occasions at the best of times. But for the Doyles (Deidre, Desmond, and their children Anna, Helen, and Brendan) it will be more difficult than most. For each of them is keeping up a front; each of them is nursing a secret wound, or smarting over a hidden betrayal. As the day draws nearer, so the tension mounts, until finally the guests gather at the silver wedding party itself.
Every table at Quentins Restaurant has a thousand stories to tell: tales of love, betrayal and revenge. Ella Brady wants to make a documentary about the renowned Dublin restaurant that has captured the spirit of a generation and a city in the years it has been open. In Maeve Binchy's magical Quentins you will meet new friends and old: the twins from Scarlet Feather, the Signora from Evening Class, Ria from Tara Road - and a host of fresh faces.
Dee loves her children very much, but now they are all grown up, shouldn't they leave home? Rosie moved out when she got married, but it didn't work out, so now she is back with her parents. Helen is a teacher, and doesn't earn enough for a place of her own. Anthony writes songs, and is just waiting for the day when someone will pay him for them. Until then, all three are happy at home. It doesn't cost them anything, and surely their parents like having a full house?
"Not a typical Binchy story"
High on the cliffs of the west coast of Ireland, overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean, is Stone House. Once falling into disrepair, it is now a beautiful hotel specialising in winter holidays. With a big, warm kitchen, log fires and understated, elegant bedrooms, it provides a welcome few can resist, whatever their reasons for coming...Henry and Nicola are burdened with a terrible secret, and are hoping the break at Stone House will help them find a way to face the future.
"Not her best"
As someone who fell off a chair not long ago trying to hear they what they were saying at the next table in a restaurant, I suppose I am obsessively interested in what some might consider the trivia of other people's lives'. Maeve Binchy is well known for her best-selling novels, the most recent of which was A Week in Winter. But for many years Maeve was a journalist, writing for The Irish Times.