Musings From MommyLand

Because sometimes there is more to Mommy…

RIP Maeve Binchy…A Review of Her Last Book “Minding Frankie”

on August 1, 2012

Monday night I was only half paying attention to my mom on our home phone as I was flipping through Facebook on my cell phone when I scared her by yelling “What?  Maeve Binchy is dead?”  I had come across the news from another author I follow and I was quite saddened by this news of her passing.  I first came across Binchy almost 10 years ago when I happened across her book Lilac Bus.  From then on I was hooked.  I have read and loved all of her books and find it hard to believe that there won’t be any more to come.

Maeve Binchy was a master of bringing the reader in and making them part of day-to-day Irish life.  There is no magic or turning and twisting plot lines to her stories.  There are doctor’s appointments, the daily grind of jobs, the awkwardness of meeting new people and first dates.  There are nosy neighbors and family turmoil and expectations.  But, most importantly her books have friendship and love and a spirit of making it work.  Just real people with real human issues who feel like family by the end of the book.

Minding Frankie was her last book and was published in 2010.  In this book, we are introduced to baby Frankie who finds herself in the care of her father Noel who is in a dead-end job and who has more than a little drinking problem.  He is also extremely surprised to learn he is going to be a father.  Frankie’s mother had a short relationship with Noel then found herself pregnant and also found out she had cancer.  Stella hangs on just long enough to bring Frankie into this world.

At the heart of this book is the old adage “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Noel is completely unprepared for life as a father and with child services always waiting in the wings for him to make a mistake he comes to rely heavily on his family and the friends and community in his small Dublin neighborhood.

I love all of Maeve Binchy’s books, but I would definitely put Minding Frankie towards the top of the list of her books.  One of the reasons for this is the fact that there are so  many appearances of characters from her other books.  You can definitely read this book on its own, but having read the other books first, you find yourself getting to make new friends while also getting re-acquainted with old ones at the same time.  There are darker themes in this book — illness and death, alcoholism, and the child services system –than in any of her others as well, but at the same time there  is a lightness and a sense of triumph.   I usually am a big fan of books for their sense of escape, but when I read Binchy, what really gets me and brings me into the story is the realness and the human condition that the characters experience.  The sense of connection she can make you feel to fictional characters never ceases to amaze me every time I read one of her books.

Maeve Binchy was a master storyteller and will be greatly missed.  If you love Ireland and Irish life then I highly recommend any of her many books.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Happy Reading!

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