Maeve Binchy


Maeve Binchy’s heartwarming tales of love, life, and loss made her one of America’s best-loved storytellers. Her novels, which sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, captured imaginations on both sides of the Atlantic in a way that most authors only dream of. Seared with a truth and honesty that leapt from the page, her stories capture the imagination and continue to win her legions of loyal fans.

In this extraordinary biography, Piers Dudgeon reveals that the inspiration ...

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Maeve Binchy: The Biography

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Maeve Binchy’s heartwarming tales of love, life, and loss made her one of America’s best-loved storytellers. Her novels, which sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, captured imaginations on both sides of the Atlantic in a way that most authors only dream of. Seared with a truth and honesty that leapt from the page, her stories capture the imagination and continue to win her legions of loyal fans.

In this extraordinary biography, Piers Dudgeon reveals that the inspiration for many of her stories came from Maeve’s own hard-won experience growing up in Ireland. In the land of her birth and what would become the setting of her novels, Maeve suffered through a difficult adolescence and famously lost her faith before coming to terms with who she was and expressing at last the qualities that would come to define her as both a writer and a person.

Drawing on extensive research and humorous personal anecdotes, Maeve Binchy: The Biography celebrates the life of a compassionate, down-to-earth and charming woman who touched hearts around the world and left behind an incredible legacy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dudgeon (Neverland) begins his narrative of bestselling author Maeve Binchy with novelistic flair, but, once past the familiar-sounding details of her early life and career, struggles for a conventional plot formula to fit the mature Binchy's life. He labors to attribute Binchy's "authentic" style to her ancestry, in particular an "indigenous Irish culture" built on music and storytelling. Yet Dudgeon also grounds the international success of her emotionally-driven, female-centered novels in modern vogues for psychology, feminism, and women's fiction. Beside the reminiscences of friends and occasional attempts at amateur psychoanalysis based on her fiction, the biography relies on personal stories that will amuse the casual fan but which Binchy's loyal followers may recognize as culled with some embellishment from her Irish Times columns. Her mature, most beloved novels merit barely a mention as Dudgeon muses on Binchy's appeal as an "intuitive" writer channeling "the collective unconscious of her people." While the biography does sensitively capture her "exhilarating, joyful spirit" as well as her vulnerabilities, Dudgeon's Binchy ultimately never seems as fully-realized as one of her own characters—testament, perhaps, to the unique talent that "made people feel happier for reading her." (July)
From the Publisher
“A loving tribute to the popular Irish writer who died two years ago at the age of 72… Piers Dudgeon, who has written biographies of writers Barbara Taylor Bradford, J.M. Barrie and Daphne du Maurier, does a deft job juxtaposing the allegorical nature of Binchy's fiction to events in her life…Dudgeon delivers a love letter penned to the late author and her fiction…fans will find new insight to their favorite Binchy works.”—USA TODAY

“An upbeat biography of the prolific, much-loved Irish writer…Dudgeon… captures her ebullience and drive in this anecdotal biography.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An engaging and vivid portrait."—Irish Central

“This sensitive and comprehensive biography is a celebration of the talent, optimism and humanity of a much-loved author who brought so much pleasure to many.”—Good Book Guide

“This joy of a biography is an absolute must for fans of the treasured Irish author… Written with warmth, wit and many a colorful anecdote… A vivid portrait of a generous-hearted, funny and consummate storyteller.”—Hello! Magazine (UK)

“Those who loved Maeve and her writing will be grateful that her life has been dutifully documented, and that she has formally taken her place in the canon of Irish literary and media life.”—Irish Independent

“Dudgeon paints Binchy as a lively and vivacious lover of life in this warm and often humorous record of a woman who was determined to be her own person.” –Irish Post

Praise for Piers Dudgeon:

“Dudgeon has hit on the winning formula.” —The Jewish Chronicle

“Dudgeon bounds through his topics with energy and...erudition.” —The Herald

“Dudgeon knows what he's doing and builds his case with precision and coolness... A gripping read.” —Scotsman

“A powerful story and Piers Dudgeon tells it with skill and feeling.” —Daily Telegraph

“Dudgeon is dogged; if he has to prise off all seven veils to locate the core, he will.” —The Independent

“Dudgeon is tenacious and perceptive.” —The Church Times

“Dudgeon has produced a fascinating biography of this prolific writer.” —Sunday Times

Kirkus Reviews
An upbeat biography of the prolific, much-loved Irish writer.Binchy (1940-2012) wrote about what she knew: love, friendship and community in small Irish towns like Dalkey, where she grew up in a conservative Catholic family. Dudgeon (Neverland: J.M. Barrie, the du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan, 2009, etc.) follows his subject's hard-won striving to "discover, enhance, and believe" in her own worth. As a child, Binchy suffered from "a crippling self-consciousness" due to her weight; she responded by developing "a self-deprecating brand of humour" that served her well as an adult. As Dudgeon tells it, Binchy's life was marked by a series of epiphanies. After a student exchange trip to France—her first time out of Ireland—she realized that her worldview was provincial and vowed to travel. At University College Dublin, from which she graduated with only a pass (the lowest rank possible), she discovered burgeoning feminism, beatniks and existentialism. Sartre became her "mentor and life guide." On a train one day, she took her first drink of alcohol, which enhanced "her rapid-flow delivery of stories, anecdotes and observations on life." She "rarely lost control" but developed a fondness for gin. Another epiphany occurred during a trip to Israel, where she worked on a kibbutz and took a side trip to Jerusalem to see where the Last Supper had taken place. What she found was a cave, a sight that shocked her so profoundly that she immediately relinquished her Catholic faith. Working as a teacher, Binchy became a writer by accident when her father submitted her travel letters to the Irish Independent. Later, she was offered a job as women's editor of the Irish Times, for which she wrote for 32 years. Fiction came later, with immediate acclaim."The secret of the universe is that we do have to take control of our own lives," was, Dudgeon claims, Binchy's lifelong mantra, and he captures her ebullience and drive in this anecdotal biography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250047144
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/22/2014
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 148,968
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

PIERS DUDGEON is a writer, editor, and photographer. He worked for ten years as a publisher in London and then started his own company, Pilot Productions. He is the author of bestselling biographies of Catherine Cookson, Edward de Bono, the composer Sir John Tavener, and the novelists Barbara Taylor Bradford, Josephine Cox, J. M. Barrie, and Daphne du Maurier.

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