Minding Frankieby Maeve Binchy
New York Times Bestseller
A tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community.
When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a single father battling demons of/b>/i>
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New York Times Bestseller
A tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community.
When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a single father battling demons of his own, Noel can’t do it alone.
Fortunately, he has a competent, caring network of friends, family and neighbors: Lisa, his unlucky-in-love classmate, who moves in with him to help him care for little Frankie around the clock; his American cousin, Emily, always there with a pep talk; the newly retired Dr. Hat, with more time on his hands than he knows what to do with; Dr. Declan and Fiona and their baby son, Frankie’s first friend; and many eager babysitters, including old friends Signora and Aidan and Frankie’s doting grandparents, Josie and Charles.
But not everyone is pleased with the unconventional arrangement, especially a nosy social worker, Moira, who is convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to Noel to persuade her that everyone in town has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie.
"Joyful, quintessential Binchy." —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Joyful, quintessential Binchy.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“All across America, Maeve Binchy fans will be kicking off their shoes, making a nice cup of tea, and curling up on the couch as they re-enter Binchy’s cozy world.” —The Seattle Times
“In Minding Frankie Binchy proves again why she’s the master of the intelligent comfort novel.” —The Plain Dealer
“One of Binchy’s best works. She harmoniously handles a diverse group of characters, the good deeds that characterize life in Ireland are believable, and the ending is sweet.” —Newark Star-Ledger
“A comforting experience. . . . Warmhearted.” —The Denver Post
“Binchy’s worldview is a large, benevolent one, and the reader is happier for it. . . . Bless her big Irish heart.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Maeve Binchy has done it again [with] yet another warm tale of individual growth and human community, [in which] she assembles a large cast of characters and deploys them with her characteristic playfulness . . . Binchy specializes in exploring human foibles without spelling them out in tiresome detail . . . There’s a good chance that many readers, like this one, will consider Minding Frankie one of Binchy’s best novels yet.” —BookPage
“Solid, reliable, and comforting in its familiarity, delivering to Binchy fans what they have come to expect from her novels. . . . A reminder of the author’s savvy ability to deliver what her loyal following has come to expect.” —The Irish Times
“Absorbing. . . . Teems with colorful characters whose concerns and connections are depicted with heart and humor. . . . New readers of Binchy will succumb to the appeal of the heartwarming tradition longtime fans love to love.” —The Free-Lance Star (Fredericksburg, VA)
Acclaim for Maeve Binchy:
“A remarkably gifted writer and a wonderful student of human nature.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A modern-day women’s writer in the Jane Austen sense.” —Standard-Times (New Bedford, MA)
“Binchy makes you laugh, cry, and care. Her warmth and sympathy render the daily struggles of ordinary people heroic and turn storytelling into art.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“An author of exceptional grace [with] a wickedly subtle sense of humor and a great deal of kindness.” —The Boston Globe
“Maeve Binchy is a benevolent god of a novelist. . . . She can channel Irish voices with the best of them, and each of these voices has its own twisting story to tell. . . . often with verve and humor.” —The Columbus Dispatch
“Binchy is a grand storyteller in the finest Irish tradition. [She] has a true gift of creating characters we either know or wish we knew. . . . A perfect escape.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Only a curmudgeon could resist this master of cheerful, read-by-fire comfort.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Reading one of Maeve Binchy’s novels is like coming home.” —The Washington Post
A Dublin neighborhood full of many of the characters who frequently pass through Binchy's Irish novels (Heart and Soul, 2009, etc.) bands together to help a young single father raise his daughter.
Aware she will not survive her baby's birth, fatally ill Stella tells alcoholic loner Noel that he is the father. He doesn't remember having actual sex with Stella and is far from certain he wants or can handle the responsibility. But with the help and encouragement of his cousin Emily, in Dublin on an extended visit from New York, Noel stops drinking and takes custody of baby Frankie after Stella's death at St. Brigid's Hospital. His transformation from loser to responsible, loving father and his struggle to convince his uptight social worker that he is fit to raise Frankie forms the central plot. But once Noel's in AA and night school, he pales as a character. After so many novels, Binchy's recurring characters have become so numerous that even devotees may have trouble keeping track. Here, hospital administrator Frank Ennis is the one to watch as he reaches out to the grown son he never knew he had. As usual, Binchy's supporting characters steal the show. Social worker Moira seems like the stereotypical uptight bureaucrat at first, but her loneliness and painful self-awareness of her failure to connect to others become increasingly heart-wrenching. Moira has to overcome an unhappy family situation, as does Lisa, a graphic artist who moves in as Noel's platonic housemate to escape her parents' sham marriage, although she's in her own sham love affair with a flashy restaurateur. Circling everywhere, boringly perfect Emily has an uncanny ability to ask the right question and solve problems—everyone in Noel's life has a story. A dram of sorrow leavens the predictably happy ending.
Binchy remains the queen of spiritual comfort, but this time round she's stretched interest thin with ups and downs too many and too mild.
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Read an Excerpt
Binchy: MINDING FRANKIE
Katie Finglas was coming to the end of a tiring day in the salon. Anything bad that could happen had happened. A woman had not told them about an allergy and had come out with lumps and a rash on her forehead. A bride’s mother had thrown a tantrum and said that she looked like a laughingstock. A man who had wanted streaks of blond in his hair became apoplectic when, halfway through the process, he had inquired what they would cost. Katie’s husband, Garry, had placed both his hands innocently on the shoulders of a sixty-year-old female client, who had then told him that she was going to sue him for sexual harassment and assault.
Katie looked now at the man standing opposite her, a big priest with sandy hair mixed with gray.
“You’re Katie Finglas and I gather you run this establishment,” the priest said, looking around the innocent salon nervously as if it were a high-class brothel.
“That’s right, Father,” Katie said with a sigh. What could be happening now?
“It’s just that I was talking to some of the girls who work here, down at the center on the quays, you know, and they were telling me . . .”
Katie felt very tired. She employed a couple of high school dropouts: she paid them properly, trained them. What could they have been complaining about to a priest?
“Yes, Father, what exactly is the problem?” she asked.
“Well, it is a bit of a problem. I thought I should come to you directly, as it were.” He seemed a little awkward.
“Very right, Father,” Katie said. “So tell me what it is.”
“It’s this woman, Stella Dixon. She’s in hospital, you see . . .”
“Hospital?” Katie’s head reeled. What could this involve? Someone who had inhaled the peroxide?
“I’m sorry to hear that.” She tried for a level voice.
“Yes, but she wants a hairdo.”
“You mean she trusts us again?” Sometimes life was extraordinary.
“No, I don’t think she was ever here before. . . .” He looked bewildered.
“And your interest in all this, Father?”
“I am Brian Flynn and I am acting chaplain at St. Brigid’s Hospital at the moment, while the real chaplain is in Rome on a pilgrimage. Apart from being asked to bring in cigarettes and drink for the patients, this is the only serious request I’ve had.”
“You want me to go and do someone’s hair in hospital?”
“She’s seriously ill. She’s dying. I thought she needed a senior person to talk to. Not, of course, that you look very senior. You’re only a girl yourself,” the priest said.
“God, weren’t you a sad loss to the women of Ireland when you went for the priesthood,” Katie said. “Give me her details and I’ll bring my magic bag of tricks in to see her.”
“Thank you so much. I have it all written out here.” Father Flynn handed her a note.
A middle-aged woman approached the desk. She had glasses on the tip of her nose and an anxious expression.
“I gather you teach people the tricks of hairdressing,” she said.
“Yes, or more the art of hairdressing, as we like to call it,” Katie said.
“I have a cousin coming home from America for a few weeks. She mentioned that in America there are places where you could get your hair done for near to nothing cost if you were letting people practice on you.”
“Well, we do have a students’ night on Tuesdays; people bring in their own towels and we give them a style. They usually contribute five euros to a charity.”
“Tonight is Tuesday!” the woman cried triumphantly.
“So it is,” Katie said through gritted teeth.
“So, could I book myself in? I’m Josie Lynch.”
“Great, Mrs. Lynch—see you after seven o’clock,” Katie said, writing down the name. Her eyes met the priest’s. There was sympathy and understanding there.
It wasn’t all champagne and glitter running your own hairdressing salon.
Josie and Charles Lynch had lived in 23 St. Jarlath’s Crescent since they were married thirty-two years ago. They had seen many changes in the area. The corner shop had become a mini-supermarket; the old laundry, where sheets had been ironed and folded, was now a Laundromat, where people left big bags bulky with mixed clothes and asked for a service wash. There was now a proper medical practice with four doctors where once there had been just old Dr. Gillespie, who had brought everyone into the world and seen them out of it.
During the height of the economic boom, houses in St. Jarlath’s Crescent had changed hands for amazing sums of money. Small houses with gardens near the city center had been much in demand. Not anymore, of course—the recession had been a great equalizer, but it was still a much more substantial area than it had been three decades ago.
After all, just look at Molly and Paddy Carroll, with their son Declan—a doctor—a real, qualified doctor! And just look at Muttie and Lizzie Scarlet’s daughter Cathy. She ran a catering company that was hired for top events.
But a lot of things had changed for the worse. There was no community spirit anymore. No church processions went up and down the Crescent on the feast of Corpus Christi, as they used to three decades ago. Josie and Charles Lynch felt that they were alone in the world, and certainly in St. Jarlath’s Crescent, in that they knelt down at night and said the Rosary.
That had always been the way.
When they married they planned a life based on the maxim that the family that prays together stays together. They had assumed they would have eight or nine children, because God never put a mouth into this world that He didn’t feed. But that wasn’t to happen. After Noel, Josie had been told there would be no more children. It was hard to accept. They both came from big families; their brothers and sisters had produced big families. But then, perhaps, it was all meant to be this way.
They had always hoped Noel would be a priest. The fund to educate him for the priesthood was started before he was three. Money was put aside from Josie’s wages at the biscuit factory. Every week a little more was added to the post office savings account, and when Charles got his envelope on a Friday from the hotel where he was a porter, a sum was also put into the post office. Noel would get the best of priestly educations when the time came.
So it was with great surprise and a lot of disappointment that Josie and Charles learned that their quiet son had no interest whatsoever in a religious life. The Brothers said that he showed no sign of a vocation, and when the matter had been presented to Noel as a possibility when he was fourteen, he had said if it was the last job on earth he wouldn’t go for it.
That had been very definite indeed.
Not so definite, however, was what he actually would like to do. Noel was vague about this, except to say he might like to run an office. Not work in an office, but run one. He showed no interest in studying office management or bookkeeping or accounting or in any areas where the careers department tried to direct him. He liked art, he said, but he didn’t want to paint. If pushed, he would say that he liked looking at paintings and thinking about them. He was good at drawing; he always had a notebook and a pencil with him and he was often to be found curled up in a corner sketching a face or an animal. This did not, of course, lead to any career path, but Noel had never expected it to. He did his homework at the kitchen table, sighing now and then, but rarely ever excited or enthusiastic. At the parent-teacher meetings Josie and Charles had inquired about this. They wondered, Did anything at school fire him up? Anything at all?
The teachers were at a loss. Most boys were unfathomable around fourteen or fifteen but they had usually settled down to do something. Or often to do nothing. Noel Lynch, they said, had just become even more quiet and withdrawn than he already was.
Josie and Charles wondered, Could this be right?
Noel was quiet, certainly, and it had been a great relief to them that he hadn’t filled the house up with loud young lads thumping one another. But they had thought this was part of his spiritual life, a preparation for a future as a priest. Now it appeared that this was certainly not the case.
Perhaps, Josie suggested, it was only the Brothers’ brand of religious life that Noel objected to. In fact, he might have a different kind of vocation and want to become a Jesuit or a missionary?
And when he was fifteen he said that he didn’t really want to join in the family Rosary anymore; it was only a ritual of meaningless prayers chanted in repetition. He didn’t mind doing good for people, trying to make less fortunate people have a better life, but surely no God could want this fifteen minutes of drone drone drone.
By the time he was sixteen they realized that he didn’t go to Sunday Mass anymore. Someone had seen him up by the canal when he was meant to have been to the early Mass up in the church on the corner. He told them that there was no point in his staying on at school, as there was nothing more he needed to learn from them. They were hiring office staff up at Hall’s and they would train him in office routine. He might as well go to work straightaway rather than hang about.
The Brothers and the teachers at his school said it was always a pity to see a boy study and leave without a qualification, but still, they said, shrugging, it was very hard trying to interest the lad in anything at all. He seemed to be sitting and waiting for his schooldays to end. Could even be for the best if he left school now. Get him into Hall’s, the big builders’ merchants; give him a wage every week and then they might see where, if anywhere, his interest lay.
Josie and Charles thought sadly of the fund that had been growing in the post office for years. Money that would never be spent making Noel Lynch into a reverend. A kindly Brother suggested that maybe they should spend it on a holiday for themselves, but Charles and Josie were shocked. This money had been saved for God’s work; it would be spent on God’s work.
Noel got his place in Hall’s. He met his work colleagues but without any great enthusiasm. They would not be his friends and companions any more than his fellow students at the Brothers had become mates. He didn’t want to be alone all the time, but it was often easier.
Over the years Noel had arranged with his mother that he would not join them at meals. He would have his lunch in the middle of the day and he would make a snack for himself in the evening. This way he missed the Rosary, the socializing with pious neighbors and the interrogation about what he had done with his day, which was the natural accompaniment to mealtimes in the Lynch household.
He took to coming home later and later. He also took to visiting Casey’s pub on the journey home—a big barn of a place, both comforting and anonymous at the same time. It was familiar because everyone knew his name.
“I’ll drop it down to you, Noel,” the loutish son of the house would say. Old Man Casey, who said little but noticed everything, would look over his spectacles as he polished the beer glasses with a clean linen cloth.
“Evening, Noel,” he would say, managing to combine the courtesy of being the landlord with the sense of disapproval he had of Noel. He was, after all, an acquaintance of Noel’s father. It was as if he were glad that Casey’s was getting the price of the pint—or several pints—as the night went on but as well as this he seemed disappointed that Noel was not spending his wages more wisely. Yet Noel liked the place. It wasn’t a trendy pub with fancy prices. It wasn’t full of girls giggling and interrupting a man’s drinking. People left him alone here.
That was worth a lot.
What People are Saying About This
“One of Binchy’s best works. She harmoniously handles a diverse group of characters, the good deeds that characterize life in Ireland are believable, and the ending is sweet. One hopes to find Frankie in one of Binchy’s future novels.” —Susan Rogers, Newark Star-Ledger
“Binchy’s world view is a large, benevolent one, and the reader is happier for it . . . bless her big Irish heart.” —Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Maeve Binchy has done it again [with] yet another warm tale of individual growth and human community, [in which] she assembles a large cast of characters and deploys them with her characteristic playfulness . . . Binchy specializes in exploring human foibles without spelling them out in tiresome detail . . . There’s a good chance that many readers, like this one, will consider Minding Frankie one of Binchy’s best novels yet.” —Maude McDaniel, BookPage
“Joyful, quintessential Binchy.” —Karen Holt, O, The Oprah Magazine
“All across America, Maeve Binchy fans will be kicking off their shoes, making a nice cup of tea, and curling up on the couch as they re-enter Binchy’s cozy world. The Irish author returns here to a charming Dublin milieu of favorite characters from past novels, with some important new ones.” —Melinda Bargreen, The Seattle Times
“Binchy is a national treasure in her homeland of Ireland, and her latest novel is a perfect illustration of why.…Your heart will have no trouble recognizing the landscape [of this] touching saga.” —Publishers Weekly
“Reading a Maeve Binchy novel is like settling in for a cozy visit with an old friend. In vintage Binchy style, a cast of colorfully eccentric characters living in a snug Dublin neighborhood seamlessly weave in and out of each other’s lives, united by family, faith, friendship and community....Readers will need a box of tissues handy as the good-hearted residents of St. Jarlath’s Crescent prove that it does indeed take a ‘village to raise a child.’” —Margaret Flanagan, Booklist
Meet the Author
MAEVE BINCHY was born in County Dublin and educated at the Holy Child convent in Killiney and at University College, Dublin. After a spell as a teacher she joined The Irish Times. Her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, was published in 1982, and she went on to write more than twenty books, all of them best sellers. Several have been adapted for film and television, most notably Circle of Friends and Tara Road, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. She was married to the writer and broadcaster Gordon Snell for thirty-five years, and died in 2012 at the age of seventy-two.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
- Dublin, Ireland, and London, England
- Date of Birth:
- May 28, 1940
- Place of Birth:
- Dalkey, a small village outside Dublin, Ireland
- Holy Child Convent in Killiney; B.A. in history, University College, Dublin, 1960
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Minding Frankie is the story of little Frankie Lynch whose mother died as she was giving birth. Her mother tells Noel Lynch that he is the father not long before she dies. A drunk who is unhappy in his work, he works hard to pull himself together for Frankie's sake. Helping, and occasionally, hindering him, are Binchy's usual cast of loveable, quirky characters - his parents who are obssessed with building a statue of Saint Jarleth, his long lost American cousin Emily who has just appeared, and those irrepressible twins. Everyone pitches in with advice and babysitting help until a cold and efficient social worker threatens to put Frankie in foster care. Minding Frankie is standard Maeve Binchy fare which is to say magic. As always there is the unusual but thoroughly engaging cast of characters, the lessons in love, and the heartwarming ending. The twins and Muttie provide plenty of humor to lighten things up. Reading this book is like crawling into a warm bed on a cold winter night, bringing comfort and contentment.
Look for all those who keep complaining of the cost of the nookbooks, StOP complaining its your fault for buying one in the first place. Dont right a review based on the price of your stupid nookbook. The review is about the content in the story and it was wonderful no matter what the cost!!!!!!!!!
I couldn't put this book down, and that doesn't happen very often. Although whenever I buy a Maeve Binchy book I can't put down. Love anything that set in Ireland. All of the characters were described so wonderfully that I could see them in my mind's eye. I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next with all the characters. Thank you Maeve Binchy. Every since Shell Seekers I've been hooked on your books.
I can't see paying almost $15 for an electronic book I can't lend to a friend... So this book will be siting on my wish list unntil these gread publishers come to their senses...
In Dublin Stella is dying from cancer. She prays she lives long enough to give birth to the child she is carrying. Worrying about the raising of her infant, she informs alcoholic Noel Lynch that he is the father. He is confused as he does not have any recall of having sex with Stella, but admits he could have been in a drunken stupor, Noel has doubts he can deal with the responsibly of a kid when he cannot even take care of himself. Noel's cousin Emily from New York encourages him to stop drinking and to raise his daughter, Frankie born at St. Brigid's Hospital following the death of Stella. He joins AA, works diligently to be a good father and persuade Moira the social worker he will take proper care of his daughter; the latter proves the most difficult as the case worker has an agenda caused by her own unhappy childhood. Lisa the graphic artist moves into the home of father, daughter and visiting cousin, but also joins other residents of St. Jarlath's Crescent to help her host remain sober. As always in a Maeve Binchy drama, there is much more going on than the prime focus as characters from previous novels reappear either to help Noel as a single dad or to tell their tale. The Irish neighborhood horde are the heart and Soul of Minding Frankie as they also mind Noel. Moira proves to be much more than a stereotype enforcer and Lisa has relationship issues, as does St. Brigid's administrator Frank. These people and Noel contrast to Emily who does everything right for everyone else, but lives precariously through their lives. Fans will enjoy Ms. Binchy's latest tour of Dublin as it takes a caring neighborhood to raise a child. Harriet Klausner
This book was an absolute joy to read. I think that anyone can relate to the characters. The author really takes you for a ride in a community full of an interesting cast of characters of all ages and walks of life. From beginning to end, one becomes enamored with each one, as they navigate life's twists and turns, making decisions, weighing choices, and throughout it all, supporting one another. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
This was my first Maeve Binchy novel and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it! This was a super cute book. Set in Ireland, this book had so many characters ( but they were easy to keep tract off) and lots going on, all based upon an unexpected arrival of a baby. I highly recommend!!!
I intend to read more of Maeve Binchy's books.
I love Maeve Binchy! This was a great book, very easy read. I like how her books often inter-connect to other books, as far as the characters go. Very nice.
I bought the nook but can't share with anyone, and now these books are costing more for my eyes only! I still don't understand how the Nookbooks cost more than a printed copy that is shipped in trucks, put on shelves, sold by cashiers, and all managed by many levels of management....and cost more via internet?
You don't even need to read the synopsis to know that it's going to be good. As in true Maeve Binchy fashion, this is another heart tugging read that brings characters to life before your eyes. Once again she incorporates characters from previous books to play roles in the lives of the characters in this one. If you have loved Maeve Binchy's books in the past, you will once again in this.
This story benefitted from a character rich cast. If only we all had neighborhoods like this.
I've read many of Ms. Binchy's novels and believe Minding Frankie is probably one of her best in how Noel accepts responsibility in the raising of his daughter, Frankie; when Stella her mother who he only had a one night stand with dies and leaves him with the guardianship of Frankie. An immensely compelling story of how Ms. BInchy can play on the many interwoven themes within this novel.
It was sweet, loved the characters.
As per usual, Maeve Binchy weaves a tale with a cast of several characters, somehow managing to make all of them an integral part of the story. Some claim this story to be boring, but I found it to be very interesting, personally. An intriguing read.
I've read many of Binchy's works and this was sadly not muh of an entertaing read like, for example, Light a Penny Candle. The characters are very well developed, but she was lacking a bit as usual with her visual desciptions here. Sometimes the said "social worker" and Lisa really grated on my nerves and made me want to stop reading the book altogether. But me, being one to want to finish the book for the sake of the other characters, read through anyways.
I loved this book!! I hadn't read Maeve Binchy's books in a long time and thoroughly enjoyed this one. If you are a Binchy fan, you must read this book.