Firefly Summer

( 41 )

Overview

It was a summer of warmth.... Kate Ryan and her husband, John, have a rollicking pub in the Irish village of Mountfern... lovely twelve-year-old twins... and such wonderful dreams.... It was a summer of innocence... but all that is about to change this fateful summer of 1962 when American millionaire Patrick O'Neill comes to town with his irresistible charm and a pocketful of money... when love and hate vie for a town's quiet heart and old traditions begin to crumble away.... It was a summer of love that would ...
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Overview

It was a summer of warmth.... Kate Ryan and her husband, John, have a rollicking pub in the Irish village of Mountfern... lovely twelve-year-old twins... and such wonderful dreams.... It was a summer of innocence... but all that is about to change this fateful summer of 1962 when American millionaire Patrick O'Neill comes to town with his irresistible charm and a pocketful of money... when love and hate vie for a town's quiet heart and old traditions begin to crumble away.... It was a summer of love that would never come again.... A time that has been captured forever in Maeve Binchy's compelling family drama... a novel you will never forget.

One of the most popular authors in recent times, Maeve Binchy first drew reader's and critics' attention with Light a Penny Candle, then with Echoes. This newest bestseller tells about changes that take place in a charming Irish village when a stranger turns a local manor house into a luxury hotel. Firefly Summer will be followed by Delacorte's hardcover, Silver Wedding, in September.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Binchy's latest novel after Light a Penny Candle is set in the tiny Irish backwater of Mountfern, home to a handful of families and typical of hundreds of similar hamlets in the British Isles where life is lived to the rhythm of the seasons. Mountfern is the ancestral home of Patrick O'Neill, a rough, rich American whose wealth comes from bars and restaurants, and whose dream is to build a grand hotel in Mountfern. The consequences of Patrick's arrival there early in the '60s are often hilarious: the local aristocracyespecially the widows and spinstersvies for his attentions, while the villagers are beguiled by his largesse and by thoughts of the prosperity the hotel will bring. But tragedy strikes when a bulldozer working on the hotel site crushes Kate Ryan's spine; her adaptation to life in a wheelchair is brave and touching. Kate Binchy's most splendid character and her husband own a pub that is bound to suffer when the hotel opens. Other charactersall memorably portrayedcome to be resentful of the "Yank's'' money while they reveal their own cupidity. Patrick's joy at his homecoming is slowly eroded, and his teenage son Kerry breaks hearts, including his father's. Binchy's lyrical prose has a lilt and musicality that makes it a joy to read. With a strong narrative drive that never flags, the story engages all the reader's emotions. September
Library Journal
When American millionaire Patrick O'Neill returns to his ancestral home in Ireland, his intent is to bring prosperity to Montfern in the form of a luxury hotel built from the ruins of an old estate. Instead, the villagers see their lifestyles irrevocably changed and the town's inner harmonies disrupted in the four years it takes to build O'Neill's hotel. Binchy Light a Penny Candle, LJ 2/15/83 offers vital, complex characters, from John and Kate Ryan, whose pub will be threatened by the new hotel, to Miss Barry, the canon's alcoholic housekeeper. These people live in all their quirky individualism and will remain with the reader long after the book is completed. Accolades. Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.
Michele Slung
With a steady affection and tolerance, Ms. Binchy once again gives us rural Ireland, a frequently maddening yet ultimately seductive place that can render problems only in contrasting shades of old and new, past and present, strange and familiar, faith and doubt....Firefly Summer displaying such qualities in abundance, it's a fine treat for this summer's end or any season.
New York Times
From the Publisher
"Totally engrossing....  Unforgettable.... An absolutely grand story.... A lyrical and  compelling family drama.... Mountfern and its  residents come vibrantly alive."
The  Plain Dealer.

"The secrets hidden  behind lace curtains, a young girl's first kiss,  children's summer games, unexpected pregnancies, sudden  deaths. She makes us feel as if we also know the  place and the people.... One of those good  old-fashioned stories that are as comfortable and  comforting as home itself."
The  Philadelphia Inquirer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440245872
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/23/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 672
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 6.96 (h) x 1.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy is the bestselling author of This Year It Will Be Different, The Glass Lake, The Copper Beech, The Lilac Bus, Circle of Friends,Silver Wedding,Firefly Summer, Echoes,Light a Penny Candle, and London Transports. She has written two plays and a teleplay that won three awards at the Prague Film Festival. A writer for The Irish Times since 1969, she lives with her husband, writer and broadcaster Gordon Snell, in London and Dublin.

Biography

If storytelling is an art, then Maeve Binchy is unquestionably one of today's master artists. After all, Binchy was born, educated, and lives in Ireland, a land well known for its great storytellers. Firmly grounded in the Irish storytelling tradition, Binchy has earned a sizeable following of enthusiastic fans for her 11 novels and 4 collections of short stories. I had a very happy childhood, which is unsuitable if you're going to be an Irish writer," Maeve jokes. Perhaps that happy childhood is why Binchy did not publish her first novel until she was 43 years old. But there's no doubt that once she did she proved herself to be an immensely talented, multiple New York Times-bestselling author. her name.

Binchy was introduced into the joys of storytelling at an early age. Her mother, Maureen, and father, William, a prominent Dublin barrister, encouraged Binchy and her three siblings to be avid readers as well as to share stories at dinner and, as her brother William admits, nobody loved telling stories more than Maeve.

Growing up in the quiet seaside town of Dalkey, located about 10 miles south of Dublin, Binchy also found herself dreaming of escape. "I love Dalkey now," she says, "but when I was young, I thought it was somewhat like living in the desert." Her desire to escape led her first to the big city, to the University College in Dublin, where she studied history and French. After graduating in 1960, she taught Latin, French, and history in a Dublin grade school and was able to indulge her love of traveling during summer vacations. She proved so popular a teacher that parents of her students pooled their money to send her on a trip to Israel. Her father was so impressed by the letters she wrote describing Israeli life that he typed them up and sent them to the Irish Independent newspaper. That's how Maeve returned home to find, quite to her surprise, that she was now a published writer.

Using her newfound interest in journalism, she got a job on The Irish Times as the women's editor, an unlikely role for her, she jokingly acknowledges, given her hopeless lack of fashion sense. In the early 70s, she shifted to feature reporting, and moved to London. The move was motivated only in part by her career. Making the kind of bold life-altering decision that many of her characters are prone to, Binchy decided to take a chance and move to London to be with the man she'd fallen in love with during a previous visit—Gordon Snell, a BBC broadcaster, children's book author, and mystery novelist.

The risk, as it often does in her novels, paid off big time. Maeve married Gordon in 1977, and the two remain happily married to this day. In 1980, they bought a one-bedroom cottage back in Binchy's old hometown of Dalkey. Struggling to make mortgage payments on their new home, Binchy, who had published two collections of her newspaper work and one of short stories, decided to try to sell her first novel, which she'd managed to write in between her newspaper assignments. When her publisher told her that Light A Penny Candle would likely be a bestseller, Maeve remembers her sense of shock. "I had to sit down," she recalls. "I had never even had enough money to pay the telephone bill."

Maeve and her husband still live in that same Dalkey cottage, where they share an office, writing side by side. "All I ever wanted to do," she says, "is to write stories that people will enjoy and feel at home with." She has unquestionably succeeded with that goal. Light A Penny Candle was followed by such bestselling works as Circle of Friends, which was turned into a major motion picture starring Minnie Driver, and Tara Road, an Oprah Book Club selection. Binchy is consistently named one of the most popular writers in readers' polls in England and Ireland, outselling and rated higher than James Joyce. Of this success, Binchy comments with her typical good humor, "If you're going on a plane journey, you're more likely to take one of my stories than Finnegan's Wake."

In addition to her books, Binchy is also a playwright whose works have been staged at The Peacock Theatre of Dublin, and was the author of a hugely popular monthly column called "Maeve's Week," which appeared in The Irish Times for 32 years. A kind of combined gossip, humor, and advice column, it achieved cult status in Ireland and abroad.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

Good To Know

In our interview, Binchy shared some fun facts about herself with us:

"I am a big, confident, happy woman who had a loving childhood, a pleasant career, and a wonderful marriage. I feel very lucky."

"I have been lucky enough to travel a lot, meet great people in many lands. I have liked almost everyone I met along the way."

"I have always believed that life is too short for rows and disagreements. Even if I think I'm right, I would prefer to apologize and remain friends rather than win and be an enemy."

"I live in Ireland near the sea, only one mile from where I grew up -- that's good, since I've known many of my neighbours for between 50-60 years. Gordon and I play chess every day, and we are both equally bad. We play chatty over talkative bad Bridge with friends every week."

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    1. Hometown:
      Dublin, Ireland, and London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 28, 1940
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dalkey, a small village outside Dublin, Ireland
    1. Education:
      Holy Child Convent in Killiney; B.A. in history, University College, Dublin, 1960

Read an Excerpt


"But she doesn't think . . ." Fergus began, but at that moment Nora Lynch, resplendent in a new hair do from the Rosemarie salon, in a new yellow dress short enough to be fashionable but not so short as to cause adverse comment from the canon, the nuns and the brothers, appeared on stage. She said she hoped everyone would enjoy this show, the first combined effort; she thanked the canon, the brothers, the convent and the sponsors, the children and the parents, and knew that everyone would have a wonderful evening. She said that as an outsider she felt very privileged to be allowed to get involved in something as much a part of the community as this was. But then in many ways she felt that she had always been part of this place and always would.

"How old are you, Fergus Slattery?" Kate whispered suddenly.

"I'm twenty-seven," he replied, confused.

"Twenty-seven years in the world and you try to tell me that young woman has no hopes of you. May God forgive you, I mean it, Fergus, may he forgive you and send you some kind of sense."

"Thanks, Kate," said Fergus, not knowing whether he was being attacked or pitied, and not liking it whichever it was.

Dara Ryan felt as if she had swallowed an ice cream whole; her stomach was cold and heavy and she wondered if she might be sick.

"I'll never be able to say it," she told Maggie Daly.

Maggie believed Dara could do anything. "You're great, Dara, you never minded saying it at school in front of everyone there."

"That's different." Dara hopped around on one leg and looked through the door that they were meant to keep firmly closed, to see how big the audience was.

"Lord, it's fullof people," she said theatrically.

"They'll love it." Maggie was loyal.

Dara would have fought with her shadow at this stage. "No, they'll hate it, it's in Irish, they won't understand a word of it."

"But it will sound terrific."

"Why don't I just go and make sounds then, nice sounds, or better still take up a gong and just bang it for three minutes and bow to the applause?"

Maggie giggled. Things were all right once Dara started making up outlandish things.

Maggie was not doing any solo piece. She was in the girls' choir which would sing Gounod's "Ave Maria," and later on come back and sing "I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree." But Dara would stand in front of the whole of Mountfern and recite "Cill Cais" which Miss Lynch had told them was a lament for an old house, a ruin like Fernscourt, except that it had been a different kind of household who had lived there, an Old Catholic family who used to have mass said in the stately home and everyone would come from far and near to attend it.

"Dara, you're on."

Crossing her fingers and giving Dara a squeeze for luck, Maggie Daly stood and watched her friend walk up on the stage.

Miss Lynch, knowing very well that hardly anyone would get even the vaguest glimmer of what the poem was about without some kind of translation, said that of course everyone knew the story of "Cill Cais," and told it without appearing to. The audience, flattered to be thought of as people who would know this, nodded at each other sagely and waited for the young Ryan girl to tell it to them again in Irish. Dara's voice sounded confident and she fixed her eyes on the back of the hall as Miss Lynch had told her to do. There was a storm of clapping and people told each other that she made a very good fist of it, then she was off and it was time for the choir from the brothers.

Brother Keane had chosen three of Moore's finest Irish melodies. He announced that the boys would sing them in the same magnificent spirit that Thomas Moore had brought to bear when he was writing them. Brother Keane had calculated without the enormously humorous content that the songs seemed to hold for his choir of twelve-year-olds, depleted as it was by six whose voices chose the time of the concert to break.

"Silent, O Moyle, be the roar of thy water,
Break not, ye breezes, your chain of repose."
Brother Keane loved this above all other of Moore's melodies. He could see none of the allusions to breaking wind, pulling chains and passing water that the entire group in front of him seemed to see written in letters of fire on their song sheets. He glared at them ferociously as with the most enormous difficulty the forty boys tried to stifle their mirth, and led them into the next song called, unhappily, "The Meeting of the Waters." The entire choir seemed to choke with the daring double entendre of the name and Brother Keane resolved to deal with them very sternly in a less public place.

The admission price had included tea, sandwiches and cakes. The sandwiches had been supervised by Mrs. Whelan who ran the Post Office and was generally accepted to be the nicest person in Mountfern. A small wiry woman with a skin that seemed to have been tanned by whatever sun shone intermittently in the Irish midlands or beaten by the winds that blew more regularly from one coast across to the other, Sheila Whelan had three cameo brooches she had bought from a tinker: a pink one, a green one and a beige. She wore them at the neck of her white blouses and had done for as long as anyone could remember. She owned about three skirts which she must have worn forever and a series of soft knitted cardigans which she must have made herself. Usually she was knitting for someone else, for the new babies that were arriving with great regularity around Mountfern, or shawls for the old, even school jumpers for the children who might need them. She always managed to have an extra bit of wool which she said it would be a pity to waste. She had a kind, dreamy face and far-away pale blue eyes that were never known to concentrate inquisitively on anything that might not bear too much scrutiny.

She seemed to have no interest in the private lives of the rest of the parish: she never appeared to notice, let alone comment on the emigrants' remittances that came home or didn't come home; nor did she seem to notice the disability pensions for people who were perfectly well, or the dole for those who were obviously working. She was able to discuss the most direct questioning about the whereabouts of Mr. Whelan with calm and even with interest, but without ever revealing that he had left her for a married woman in Dublin, and that the two of them now had four children. If anyone asked whether he was coming back, Mrs. Whelan was always able to get into the same interrogative mood and say it was very hard to know, wasn't it? She found that some things were almost impossible to work out, weren't they? And somehow the questioner found himself or herself enmeshed in the Meaning of Life instead of the specific whereabouts of Mrs. Whelan's husband.

She was the kind of woman you'd go to if you had committed a murder, Fergus Slattery had always said. And oddly, there was one killing near Mountfern. A farmer's son had attacked his father in a drunken fight and killed him. It was to the post office, not the presbytery or the Garda station that he had come, carrying the murder weapon, a pitchfork.

Mrs. Whelan had involved the presbytery and the Garda station, but gently and in her own time. Nobody had thought it even remotely unusual that the demented man had come to Mrs. Whelan nor had she made anything of the incident; she said she supposed he was on his way to the canon and her light had been on.

Nobody knew, either, that it was Mrs. Whelan who had encouraged the sandwich makers to cut the crusts off and to do just one plate each. That way she was sure of getting what everyone had promised, though it meant much more work for her. Fergus knew, because Miss Purcell had been fussing about whether to have chicken salad or egg and mayonnaise in her offering and this had meant at least three calls to Mrs. Whelan for discussion.

"You are the only sensible woman in this town, Mrs. Whelan," he began.

"What can I do for you, Fergus?" she asked simply.

"You mean I wouldn't say it unless I wanted something?"

"Not at all." But she waited.

"Is my name up with Nora Lynch?" he asked.

"Why do you ask?" she said.

"Because Kate Ryan, a woman I like and respect, told me it was, and as true as the day is long I didn't mean it to be."

"Well if there's any misunderstanding I'm sure you'll sort it out."

"But is there any misunderstanding, Mrs. Whelan? That's what I'm asking you. I don't want to go sorting things out if there's nothing to sort out."

"Ah, nobody tells me anything, Fergus."

"But I'm only asking you about me, not about other people."

"As I said, I've not got an idea in the wide world, but I know if you think that there's some confusion you'd be the man to clear it up. One way or another."

"By saying something out straight, you mean? Like "I don't want to marry you'?"

Mrs. Whelan's eyes were shuttered. Open but closed at the same time. They told him he had gone too far in his revelations. That she expected a solicitor to be even more discreet than a postmistress.

"Other people go to you with their business, Fergus, you're as much in demand now as your father, and that's your job after all. If there's a need for the right words you'll find them."

"You'd have been great as a prisoner of war, Mrs. Whelan," said Fergus. "The secrets would have been safe with you all right."


Fergus and Nora went for a drive after the concert. The last thank yous and congratulations had been said; people walked home in the sunny early summer evening. The older children had gone to sit on the bridge. The cinema had a special late start, so many of them headed to the pictures. Fergus had the car out ready and waiting. Nora Lynch came running over to join him.

Small and slightly plump, she had the perfect skin and apple cheeks of a picture poster. Her fair hair was curled carefully, and she wore a little lipstick but not enough to do any damage.

"I thought we might go up on the hill," he said as Nora put on her white jacket with the little yellow trim which matched her dress so well.

"The hill?" She was surprised.

"It's a nice quiet place to talk, and I have something I want to say to you."

Nora's eyes lit up with pleasure and her face was pink. "I'd love that," she said in a sort of husky way, not in her usual voice at all.

With a sickening lurch of his stomach Fergus realized that this pleasant, empty-headed, chirruping little teacher whom he had kissed a dozen times thought that he was about to propose marriage to her.

Slowly he started the car and headed for the hills.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 41 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2000

    I thought it couldn't get any better.....

    after I read 'The Glass Lake,' but Firefly Summer, in my opinion surpassed even that great read. Maeve Binchy, as usual, has managed to capture characters that many of us have encountered in our lives in some way or another...the spirited Kate Ryan and her dependable John, the designing Marian Johnson, the discreet Sheila Whelan, the frustrated and often excluded younger sibling, Eddie....I hope Ms. Binchy's writing stays at least one book ahead of me!!! I couldn't bear not to have a Binchy book to read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2011

    Disappointment

    Disappointing and trite! Too many characters, convoluted interactions. Sorry i bought thid book, and wasted time reading it.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    Wanted more

    As usual, another great story by Binchy. I was honestly stunned when it ended. I was truly disappointed that it was time to let go of the characters and felt that there was much more to discover. Any hope for a sequel?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2006

    Don't miss it!!!

    This is the fourth Binchy novel I have had the pleasure of reading. I think it is the best so far!!! Others were Quentins, Tara Road, and Circle of Friends. She is my new favorite author, having discovered her only last year! She drew me into this book in a way I didn't think possible. I found myself laughing, crying, and gasping in disbelief.....very uncharacteristic of me! You don't want to miss this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2004

    It ended too soon

    This is only the second Binchy book I have read (Light a Penny Candle was the first). I was sorry when the book finished as there were several loose ends. However, I felt there were a few too many characters - I could have used a Cast of Characters - and some were not very fleshed out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2004

    Firefly Summer needs a sequel

    Just catching up with Maeve Binchy's novels and was fasinated with the clearly drawn characters and fast-moving story line of 'Firefly Summer'. Having been drawn into the story I was disappointed not to find any sequels to this story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2014

    Not Good.

    It started out ok but dragged on and on and on. The end of the book just stopped. After all of the happenings and descriptions of all of the characters I was left hanging with every character. There was nothing that wrapped up any character. I read all the way to the end and was extremely disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    EmberClaw

    Yeah.... its just that the clan fell so inactive it troubling..

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    Dawnsky

    Emberclaw? Are you okay?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2013

    love this book

    Once again the author had us develop a relationship with the main characters. Wish there had been one more chapter to let us see how everyone was doing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    To tre

    Caitlin is locked out yay

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2013

    Tre

    Ok so

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2013

    How quaint firefly lne has a john and kate ryan as well and low and behold twin sons. To xlosw xor comort

    Hmm

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    Another good one by Maeve Binchy

    This book started a little slow, but was well worth sticking with it. After the initial few chapters, I was drawn in as only Binchy can do. From then on, I could not put the book down. Her characters become alive and you feel that you are right in that little Irish town. A great story with an ending you are not expecting. I would highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2012

    Lion claw

    Was up

    0 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2012

    Tigerriver

    The new warrior made a nest with some bracken and twigs. She skined them with her tiger like claws and made them very smooth with no nicks. She put a thin blanket of moss in the middle. Then she lined it a heavy amount of moss for the nest liner. She smiled and then got some feathers she gathered and put them in the middle over the moss for a soft cover. She smiled happily and then put some thyme and mint leaves there for freshness and a delightful smell. Tigerriver

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2012

    Lionmoon

    No i will not be ur mate

    0 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    It sucks

    Fhxuwje

    0 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2010

    Living in Ireland

    The first chapter was slow and hard to continue, but once you pass it the story flows. The only problem in Maeve Binchy books the story goes back and forth and tells it from different perspectives all the time and sometimes you find yourself "What year are we in?" "Who am I?" I read many of her books and was trying to buy all her books but I gave a break. I am just fed up reading stories that takes place in Ireland. There is nothing wrong with Ireland, don't that me wrong, but you just want something else after feeling like living in Ireland for forever.
    The story was not thrilling, but maybe a little heart breaking. She is excellent in details.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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