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Dana R. Casella
5.0 out of 5 starsReread After 37 Years
Reviewed in the United States on February 14, 2019
Thirty seven years ago, I discovered a new writer, Maeve Binchy. I fell in love with her writing from the vey first page of "Light a Penny Candle," her first novel. I can still remember the look of the book's cover, the feel of it, as well, as it had a very smooth, slick cover. I devoured that novel as a young woman in my late twenties. Fast forward. I am about to have my "medicare" (65th) birthday, and I decided I wanted to reread the book. Of course, some friend from a lifetime ago, had borrowed my original copy and not returned it ( which is always a no no in my mind) so I got a copy on Amazon, a copy which I will not let go again! It's a different volume, lacking the same beautiful cover, but contains nearly 600 pages of incredible writing. All I remembered was that I had loved the book, that it was about two young women who became lifelong friends and who, at some point, loved the same man. I had forgotten more than enough to make a rereading a lot of fun. I finished the book late last night. This time, while loving it, I was very disappointed in the last 20 or so pages, as they defied credulity. Binchy was a new writer when she wrote the book, and she definitely did not write ridiculous endings in her other books, thank goodness. "Light a Penny Candle" was perfect until that point, when she took something beautiful and good and made it rotten and ugly. I do not think the character she destroyed would have gone the way she sent him. Perhaps, at 28, I didn't think that way, but as a wise "old" lady, I can see how the ending just didn't work. I still loved the book, and am thrilled I spent the last few days rereading it. For anyone who missed it the first time around, it's a jewel of a novel with great character development and heart, about a time long gone, but not so long ago that no one recalls that era. The story covers the time from WWII until the mid 1960's, when women were just starting to show their ability to stand on their own, forge their own way, and could choose whether or not to marry or have children. Great book despite a poor ending.
Oh, how I miss Maeve! She was such a special writer. This was her first novel. I must have read it back in the 1980s. Luckily, I barely remembered a thing. I don’t enjoy re-reading fiction when I remember stuff. I made that mistake with Isabel Allende’s “House of Spirits”. Loved it the first time. Decided to re-read it a few years later when not enough time had passed. The magic was gone. I enjoyed this book as much as I did the first time that I read it.
This is a story of a friendship between two girls, set in Ireland and England in the 1940s and 1950s. The characters were complex and well-developed, as they always are with Maeve. The story grabbed me, and I was thinking about it constantly any time that I wasn’t reading – always a good sign!
The only reason that I am not giving it 5 stars is the ending. It was fabulous all the way through, but the ending just seemed rushed, flat, out of character, and a bit bizarre. It threw me for a loop, and I had to check if I was missing anything. This book is worth reading for all the lovely parts, but just be aware that the ending is weak.
My favorite quote:
“Self-pity brings tears to the eyes quicker than anything else.”
Reviewed in the United States on September 20, 2017
Loved the characters all through, even the ones with spots and boils in their life values, until the end. The ending was a surprise but not in a good way. It just didn't make any sense which made it unbelievable and all the hours spent reading a waste of time.
5.0 out of 5 starsOne of my favorite books of all time...
Reviewed in the United States on October 16, 2014
This is one of my favorite books of all time! It covers the friendship of two very different women since childhood. Aisling(pronounced Ashleen) and is from Ireland and Elizabeth is from England and goes to live with Aisling and her family during the WWII to get away from London and the bombings, she must leave her parents and she is very shy and timid, the opposite of Aisling who is very outgoing and lively. Staying with the O'connor family does wonders for Elizabeth and she credits Aisling's mother for her care and non judgemental character and love she and her family shows her. The books covers their lives together from childhood trauma's to their love affairs, tough times, great times, births, marriages and deaths. I think all women can relate to this book if we are blessed once in our lifetime with one true best girlfriend who really understands us and us them! If I would have to complain about anything, it seems Ms. Binchy was in a rush or under a time restraint to finish this book, the ending seems very rushed and is not explained very well. But I still loved, loved it!!!
As usual, I enjoyed Maeve Binchy's book. We lost a wonderful author when she died. This book follows two women from childhood to mid adult. It was a very well written book and the characters were very well developed. All the characters in the book were delightful and meaningful to the story line. It had enough surprises in the book to really make it interesting. The book is long 819 pages on the Kindle but I don't think any of the book could have been eliminated to make it shorter. There were no lulls in the story line that I would have cut out. It was a nice easy read and I will miss the characters. It kept my interest completely through out the entire book. I would recommend this book highly.
3.0 out of 5 starsStarted off well, but I didn't finish it
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 27, 2018
My mother absolutely loved this book which she read many years ago but I have just got around to starting it. Elizabeth, the 10 year old child of a rather loveless marriage is sent to her mother’s old friend in Ireland, who welcomes 10 year old Elizabeth into her own family of 5 children, including 10 year old Aisling, caring for her for the duration of WW2. I really enjoyed this part of the book. Maeve Binchy wrote in detail about her characters’ thoughts, feelings and day to day actions. This is interesting at first, but to me it turned out to be a long drawn out story, mainly about Aisling’s and Elizabeth’s lives together and after they part at the end of the war. As they grew up, Aisling and Elizabeth started to become exasperating and I started to feel I had had enough of them! The book is 800 + pages long ( 600 in print ) and by 30% of it Elizabeth is back home. The next 20% deals with their adolescence, young adulthood and the girls’ love life against the backdrop of their respective families. By the time I had read 50% they had both made unwise decisions in their love lives, one had had an abortion to keep an undeserving boy friend and one was getting married. By 60%, in my view not much else had occurred although Aisling was having marital problems regarding sex. I suppose the next 40% of the book will be about how they deal with their problems and what happens next. By the time I had read to 60%, I am afraid I had lost the will to continue so I left it there. Many people have loved this book and maybe you will too, but I decided that life is too short and went on to read something else instead.
5.0 out of 5 starsThis is a candle you don't want to burn away
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 4, 2019
first read this book over thirty years ago and it made me fall in love with the writings of the warm and wonderful woman who could create friends for us to treasure in her books. Dear Maeve Binchy, since you've left this mortal coil, it is si sad for all your fans that we have nothing new to look forward to. This is why I decided to read the first of Matches books I was introduced to all those years ago. It had lost none of its magic, the characters are as real to me now as they were back then. My laughter and tears have still accompanied the moments in the book they did at the first reading. If you have never read a Maeve Binchy book, I envy you, there are so many joyous and sad moments you are going to experience. Her characters are real, you hear their voices through the words she wrote for them, you share in their lives and feel that you've known them forever. I'm just sorry I waited so long to read it.
5.0 out of 5 starsA Story about two girls who be come firm friends set in Ireland & London.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 22, 2019
LIGHT A PENNY CANDLE. BY MAEVE BINCHY A Wonderful story set in Ireland & England, two women who had known each other when they were young, now have their own families, & as ww11 starts , Violet writes to her friend in Ireland asking her could she take her daughter, Elizabeth, during the war, for safety as London is badly hit by the Blitz, Eileen in Ireland writes back to say they would be delighted to have Elizabeth they have a daughter the same age, Aisling. they will be great company for each other, so the story follows the two girls as they grow up. as usual Maeve Binchy holds your interest & you can visualise the houses the area & the people, a lovely, lovely story.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 11, 2018
I first read this when it was published in 1982 and I have just reread it for a reading challenge. Rereading is not my thing but I loved this book from start to about twenty pages from the end. I felt the ending was a bit rushed and I am off to see whether this is one of Maeve Binchy's books that had a follow-on. I do hope so! Ms Binchy's writing is always atmospheric, and emotive, and tear jerking on occasion too. I shall be breaking my no rereading rule to revisit some more of my old favourites.
5.0 out of 5 starsLove, loyalty and friendship at its best
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 24, 2018
This is the umpteenth time I have read this book but the first time on my kindle - because i shall read it again many times. I love all Maeve Binchy's books and read them again and again. Her stories revolve around and are usually set in Ireland and they are great family or people dramas with great believable characters and you never want the books to end. If you want a good absorbing read try this or any of her books. She has left a great legacy of books.