Tara Road

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Overview

Ria lived on Tara Road in Dublin with her dashing husband, Danny, and their two children. She fully believed she was happily married, right up until the day Danny told her he was leaving her to be with his young, pregnant girlfriend. By a chance phone call, Ria meets Marilyn, a woman from New England unable to come to terms with her only son's death and now separated from her husband. The two women exchange houses for the summer with extraordinary consequences, each learning that the other has a deep secret that ...
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Overview

Ria lived on Tara Road in Dublin with her dashing husband, Danny, and their two children. She fully believed she was happily married, right up until the day Danny told her he was leaving her to be with his young, pregnant girlfriend. By a chance phone call, Ria meets Marilyn, a woman from New England unable to come to terms with her only son's death and now separated from her husband. The two women exchange houses for the summer with extraordinary consequences, each learning that the other has a deep secret that can never be revealed. Drawn into lifestyles vastly differing from their own, at first each resents the news of how well the other is getting on. Ria seems to have become quite a hostess, entertaining half the neighborhood, which at first irritates the reserved and withdrawn Marilyn, a woman who has always guarded her privacy. Marilyn seems to have become bosom friends with Ria's children, as well as with Colm, a handsome restaurateur, whom Ria has begun to miss terribly. At the end of the summer, the women at last meet face-to-face. Having learned a great deal, about themselves and about each other, they find that they have become, firmly and forever, good friends.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
On the strength of novels such as Evening Class, The Glass Lake, and Circle of Friends, Maeve Binchy certainly qualifies as one of Ireland's best known and bestselling exports. Her latest novel, Tara Road, is the story of two women -- one Irish, one American, both struggling to overcome personal tragedies -- who agree to swap houses for the summer. Ria and her husband, Danny, live in a magnificent old house they have restored together. But her posh Dublin address loses much of its charm when Danny leaves her for his young, pregnant girlfriend. A chance phone call from grief-stricken Marilyn in New England provides both women with a welcome refuge from their shattered lives. But in exchanging houses, they also unwittingly take on aspects of each other's vastly different lives -- not always without new conflict. Though literally an ocean apart, when the two women at last meet face-to-face at summer's end, they find that they have not only learned each other's deepest secrets, but that they have become good friends.
Trudi Miller Rosenblum
Narrator Terry Donnelly offers just a slight touch of Irish accent for the Irish characters....She's effective at conveying the story's emotions and turmoil.
Billboard Magazine
Seattle Times
A total immersion in a colorful new world where the last page comes too soon.
Wall Street Journal
Engrossing...hard to put down...a saga of love, sex, money and intrigue.
Cleveland Plain-Dealer
A writer blessed with extraordinary talent, insight, and compassion.
Washington Post
Reading one of Maeve Binchy's novels is like coming home.
Cleveland Plain-Dealer
A writer blessed with extraordinary talent, insight, and compassion.
USA Today
Tara Road is good storytelling...Binchy's books are big, her boys are backsliders, her heroines are spirited.
Newsday
A tender novel of the pleasures and pitfalls of friendship, sure to delight.
New York Times
A remarkably gifted writer.
Philadelphia Inquirer
The incomparable Maeve Binchy proves that storytelling is all.
Darina Molloy
...[E]xactly the kind of warm, human tale we have come to expect from the bestselling author....Her characters, as always, are very real...
Irish America Magazine
Amy Waldman
...[No] fairy tale...just a great deal of growth and friendship and hard-won strength.
People Magazine
Library Journal
Fans of beloved Irish writer Binchy (Evening Class) will be transported to reader's heaven by her latest. With words, she paints sensitive portraits of a variety of women connected by a Dublin address: Tara Road. Dubliner Ria Lynch, cheerily domestic wife and mother, suffers from a series of betrayals dealt by her charming husband. Meanwhile, in Connecticut, Marilyn Vine's grief for her dead son transforms her into a cold, unloving person. These two strangers seize an opportunity to swap homes for a summer, each crossing an ocean to look for a way to begin again. As the two very different women inherit one anotherr's neighbors, families, and lifestyles, they discover their strengths and their futures. The novel's other characters are vividly drawn--the reader never has to stop to remember who is who. And Binchy adds a spark of magic: a fortuneteller serves as a thread connecting the characters through time. -- Carol J. Bissett, Dittlinger Memorial Library, New Braunfels, Texas
The Seattle Times
A total immersion in a colorful new world where the last page comes too soon.
The New York Times
A remarkably gifted writer.
The Washington Post
Reading one of Maeve Binchy's novels is like coming home.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The incomparable Maeve Binchy proves that storytelling is all.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer
A writer blessed with extraordinary talent, insight, and compassion.
Newsday
A tender novel of the pleasures and pitfalls of friendship, sure to delight.
Darina Molloy
...[E]xactly the kind of warm, human tale we have come to expect from the bestselling author....Her characters, as always, are very real...
Irish America Magazine
Amy Waldman
...[No] fairy tale...just a great deal of growth and friendship and hard-won strength.
People Magazine
From the Publisher
"Her best work yet...Tara Road is like a total immersion in a colorful new world, where the last page comes too soon."—Seattle Times

"An irresistible tale."—Elle

"Engrossing."—Wall Street Journal

"A tender novel of the pleasures and pitfalls of friendship, Tara Road is an ultramodern love story for women, about women, between women that is sure to delight."—Newsday

"Difficult to put down!"—Denver Post

"One of Binchy's best."—Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553527186
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/2/1999
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Abridged, 4 Cassettes, 6 hrs.
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 7.15 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy was born and educated in Dublin. She is the bestselling author of The Return Journey, Evening Class, This Year It Will Be Different, and The Glass Lakes. She has written two plays and a teleplay that won three awards at the Prague Film Festival. She has been writing for The Irish Times since 1969 and lives with her husband, writer and broadcaster Gordon Snell, in 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

Ria's mother had always been very fond of film stars. It was a matter of sadness to her that Clark Gable had died on the day Ria was born. Tyrone Power had died on the day Hilary had been born just two years earlier. But somehow that wasn't as bad. Hilary hadn't seen off the great king of cinema as Ria had. Ria could never see Gone With the Wind without feeling somehow guilty.

She told this to Ken Murray, the first boy who kissed her. She told him in the cinema. Just as he was kissing her, in fact.

"You're very boring," he said, trying to open her blouse.

"I'm not boring," Ria cried with some spirit. "Clark Gable is there on the screen and I've told you something interesting. A coincidence. It's not boring."

Ken Murray was embarrassed, as so much attention had been called to them. People were shushing them and others were laughing. Ken moved away and huddled down in his seat as if he didn't want to be seen with her.

Ria could have kicked herself. She was almost sixteen. Everyone at school liked kissing, or said they did. Now she was starting to do it and she had made such a mess of it. She reached out her hand for him.

"I thought you wanted to look at the film," he muttered.

"I thought you wanted to put your arm around me," Ria said hopefully.

He took out a bag of toffees and ate one. Without even passing her the bag. The romantic bit was over.


Sometimes you could talk to Hilary, Ria had noticed. This wasn't one of those nights.

"Should you not talk when people kiss you?" she asked her sister.

"Jesus, Mary, and Holy St. Joseph," said Hilary, who was getting dressed to go out.

"I justasked," Ria said. "You'd know, with all your experience with fellows."

Hilary looked around nervously in case anyone had heard. "Will you shut up about my experience with fellows," she hissed. "Mam will hear you and that will be the end of either of us going anywhere ever again."

Their mother had warned them many times that she was not going to stand for any cheap behavior in the family. A widow woman left with two daughters had enough to worry her without thinking that her girls were tramps and would never get a husband. She would die happy if Hilary and Ria had nice respectable men and homes of their own. Nice homes, in a classier part of Dublin, places with a garden even. Nora Johnson had great hopes that they would all be able to move a little upward. Somewhere nicer than the big, sprawling housing estate where they lived now. And the way to find a good man was not by flaunting yourself at every man that came along.

"Sorry, Hilary." Ria looked contrite. "But anyway she didn't hear, she's watching TV."

Their mother did little else during an evening. She was tired, she said, when she got back from the dry cleaners where she worked at the counter. All day on your feet, it was nice to sit down and get transported to another world. Mam wouldn't have heard anything untoward from upstairs about experience with fellows.

Hilary forgave her—after all she needed Ria to help her tonight. Mam had a system that as soon as Hilary got in she was to leave her handbag on the landing floor. That way when Mam got up to go to the bathroom in the night she'd know Hilary was home and would go to sleep happily. Sometimes it was Ria's job to leave the handbag out there at midnight, allowing Hilary to creep in at any hour, having taken only her keys and lipstick in her pocket.

"Who'll do it for me when the time comes?" Ria wondered.

"You won't need it if you're going to be blabbing and yattering on to fellows when they try to kiss you," Hilary said. "You'll not want to stay out late because you'll have nowhere to go."

"I bet I will," Ria said, but she didn't feel as confident as she sounded. There was a stinging behind her eyes.

She was sure she didn't look too bad. Her friends at school said she was very lucky to have all that dark curly hair and blue eyes. She wasn't fat or anything and her spots weren't out of control. But people didn't pick her out; she didn't have any kind of sparkle like other girls in the class did.

Hilary saw her despondent face. "Listen, you're fine, you've got naturally curly hair, that's a plus for a start. And you're small, fellows like that. It will get better. Sixteen is the worst age, no matter what they tell you." Sometimes Hilary could be very nice indeed. Usually on the nights she wanted her handbag left on the landing.

And of course Hilary was right. It did get better. Ria left school and like her elder sister took a secretarial course. There were plenty of fellows, it turned out. Nobody particularly special, but she wasn't in any rush. She would possibly travel the world before she settled down to marry.

"Not too much traveling," her mother warned.

Nora Johnson thought that men might regard travel as fast. Men preferred to marry safer, calmer women. Women who didn't go gallivanting too much. It was only sensible to have advance information about men, Nora Johnson told her daughters. This way you could go armed into the struggle. There was a hint that she may not have been adequately informed herself. The late Mr. Johnson, though he had a bright smile and wore his hat at a rakish angle, was not a good provider. He had not been a believer in life insurance policies. Nora Johnson worked in a dry cleaners and lived in a shabby, run-down housing estate. She did not want the same thing for her daughters when the time came.

"When do you think the time will come?" Ria asked Hilary.

"For what?" Hilary was frowning a lot at her reflection in the mirror. The thing about applying blusher was that you had to get it just right. Too much and you looked consumptive, too little and you looked dirty and as if you hadn't washed your face.

"I mean, when do you think either of us will get married? You know the way Mam's always talking about when the time comes."

"Well I hope it comes to me first, I'm the elder. You're not even to consider doing it ahead of me."

"No, I have nobody in mind. It's just I'd love to be able to look into the future and see where we'll be in two years' time. Wouldn't it be great if we could have a peep."

"Well, go to a fortune-teller then, if you're that anxious."

"They don't know anything." Ria was scornful.

"It depends. If you get the right one they do. A lot of the girls at work found this great one. It would make you shiver the way she knows things."

"You've never been to her?" Ria was astounded.

"Yes, I have actually, just for fun. The others were all going, I didn't want to be the only one disapproving."

"And?"

"And what?"

"What did she tell you? Don't be mean, go on." Ria's eyes were dancing.

"She said I would marry within two years. . . ."

"Great, can I be the bridesmaid?"

"And that I'd live in a place surrounded by trees and that his name began with an M, and that we'd both have good health all our lives."

"Michael, Matthew, Maurice, Marcello?" Ria rolled them all around to try them out. "How many children?"

"She said no children," Hilary said.

"You don't believe her, do you?"

"Of course I do, what's the point giving up a week's wages if I don't believe her."

"You never paid that!"

"She's good. You know, she has the gift."

"Come on."

"No, she does have a gift. All kinds of high-up people consult her. They wouldn't if she didn't have the power."

"And where did she see all this good health and the fellow called M and no children? In tea leaves?"

"No, on my hand. Look at the little lines under your little finger around the side of your hand. You've got two, I've got none."

"Hilary, don't be ridiculous. Mam has three lines. . . ."

"And remember there was another baby who died, so that makes three, right."

"You are serious! You do believe it."

"You asked so I'm telling you."

"And everyone who is going to have children has those little lines and those who aren't haven't?"

"You have to know how to look." Hilary was defensive.

"You have to know how to charge, it seems." Ria was distressed to see the normally levelheaded Hilary so easily taken in.

"It's not that dear when you consider—" Hilary began.

"Ah, Hilary, please. A week's wages to hear that kind of rubbish! Where does she live, in a penthouse?"

"No, a caravan as it happens, on a caravan halting site."

"You're joking me."

"True, she doesn't care about money. It's not a racket or a job, it's a gift."

"Yeah."

"So it looks like I can do what I like without getting pregnant." Hilary sounded very confident.

"It might be dangerous to throw out the Pill," said Ria. "I wouldn't rely totally on Madam Fifi or whatever she's called."

"Mrs. Connor."

"Mrs. Connor," Ria repeated. "Isn't that amazing? Mam used to consult St. Anne or someone when she was young. We thought that was mad enough, now it's Mrs. Connor in the halting site."

"Wait until you need to know something, you'll be along to her like a flash."


It was very hard to know what a job was going to be like until you were in it and then it was too late.

Hilary had office jobs in a bakery, a laundry, and then settled in a school. There wasn't much chance of meeting a husband there, she said, but the pay was a bit better and she got her lunch free, which meant she could save a bit more. She was determined to have something to put toward a house when the time came.

Ria was saving too, but to travel the world. She worked first in the office of a hardware shop, then in a company that made hairdressing supplies. And then settled in a big, busy real estate agency. Ria was on the reception desk and answered the phone. It was a world she knew nothing of when she went in, but it was obviously a business with a huge buzz. Prosperity had come to Ireland in the early eighties and the property market was the first to reflect this. There was huge competition between the various real estate agents and Ria found they worked closely as a team.

On the first day she met Rosemary. Slim, blond, and gorgeous, but as friendly as any of the girls she had ever met at school or secretarial college. Rosemary also lived at home with her mother and sister, so there was an immediate bond. Rosemary was so confident and well up in everything that was happening, Ria assumed that she must be a graduate or someone with huge knowledge of the whole property market. But no, Rosemary had only worked there for six months; it was her second job.

"There's no point in working anywhere unless we know what it's all about," Rosemary said. "It makes it twice as interesting if you know all that's going on."

It also made Rosemary twice as interesting to all the fellows who worked there. They found it very difficult to get to first base with her. In fact, Ria had heard that there was a sweepstake being run secretly on who would be the first to score. Rosemary had heard this too. She and Ria laughed over it.

"It's only a game," Rosemary said. "They don't really want me at all." Ria was not sure that she was right; almost any man in the office would have been proud to escort Rosemary Ryan. But she was adamant: a career first, fellows later. Ria listened with interest. It was such a different message than the one she got at home, where her mother and Hilary seemed to put a much greater emphasis on the marriage side of things.

Ria's mother said that 1982 was a terrible year for film stars dying. Ingrid Bergman died, and Romy Schneider and Henry Fonda, then there was the terrible accident when Princess Grace was killed. All the people you really wanted to see, they were dying off like flies.

It was also the year that Hilary Johnson got engaged to Martin Moran, a teacher at the school where she worked in the office.

Martin was pale and anxious and originally from the West of Ireland. He always said his father was a small farmer, not just a farmer but a small one. Since Martin was six feet one it was hard to imagine this. He was courteous and obviously very fond of Hilary, yet there was something about him that lacked enthusiasm and fire. He looked slightly worried about things and spoke pessimistically when he came to the house for Sunday lunch.

There was a problem connected with everything. The Pope would get assassinated when he visited England, Martin was sure of it. And when he didn't, it was just lucky and his visit hadn't done all the good that people had hoped it would. The war in the Falklands would have repercussions for Ireland, mark his word. And the trouble in the Middle East was going to get worse, and the IRA bombs in London were only the tip of the iceberg. Teachers' salaries were too low; house prices were too high.

Ria looked with wonder at the man her sister was going to marry.

Hilary, who had once been able to throw away a week's salary on a fortune-teller, was now talking about the cost of having shoes repaired and the folly of making a telephone call outside the cheap times.

Eventually a selection was made and a deposit was paid. It was a very small house. It was impossible to imagine what the area might look like in the future. At present it was full of mud, cement mixers, diggers, unfinished roads, and unmade footpaths. And yet it seemed exactly what her elder sister wanted out of life. Never had she seen her so happy.

Hilary was always smiling and holding Martin's hand as they talked, even on very worrying subjects like stamp duty and the real estate agent's fees. She kept turning and examining the very small diamond that had been very carefully chosen and bought from a jeweler where Martin's cousin worked so that a good price had been arranged.

Hilary was excited about the wedding day, which would be on the day before her twenty-fourth birthday. For Hilary the time had come. She celebrated it with manic frugality. She and Martin vied with each other to save money on the whole project.

An autumn wedding was much more sensible. Hilary could wear a cream-colored suit and hat, something that could be worn again and again, and eventually dyed a dark color and worn still further. As a wedding feast they would have a small lunch in a Dublin hotel, just family. Martin's father and brothers, being small farmers, could not afford to be away from the land for any longer than a day. It would be impossible to be anything but pleased for her. It was so obviously what Hilary wanted. But Ria knew that it was nothing at all like what she wanted herself.

Ria wore a bright scarlet-colored coat to the wedding, and a red velvet hair band and bow in her black curly hair. She must have been one of the most colorful bridesmaids at the drabbest wedding in Europe, she thought.

Next day she decided to wear her scarlet bridesmaid's coat to the office. Rosemary was amazed. "Hey, you look terrific. I've never seen you dressed up before, Ria. Seriously, you should get interested in clothes, you know. What a pity we have nowhere to go to lunch and show you off, we mustn't waste this."

"Come on, Rosemary, it's only clothes." Ria was embarrassed. She felt now that she must have been dressed like a tramp before.

"No, I'm not joking. You must always wear those knock-them-dead colors. I bet you were the hit of the wedding!"

"I'd like to think so, but maybe I was a bit too loud, made them color-blind. You've no idea what Martin's people were like."

"Like Martin?" Rosemary guessed.

"Compared to them Martin's a ball of fire," Ria said.

"Look, I can't believe you're the same person as yesterday." Rosemary stood in her immaculate lilac-colored knitted suit, her makeup perfect and amazed admiration written all over her.

"Well, you've really put it up to me. Now I'll have to get a whole new wardrobe." Ria twirled around once more before taking off her new scarlet coat, and caught the eye of the new man in the office.

She had heard there was a Mr. Lynch coming from the Cork branch. He had obviously arrived. He wasn't tall, about her own height. He was handsome, and he had blue eyes and straight fair hair that fell into them. He had a smile that lit up the room. "Hallo, I'm Danny Lynch," he said. Ria looked at him, embarrassed to have been caught pirouetting around in her new coat. "Aren't you just gorgeous?" he said. She felt a very odd sensation in her throat, as if she had been running up a hill and couldn't catch her breath.

Rosemary spoke, which was just as well because Ria would not have been able to answer at all.

"Well hallo there, Danny Lynch," she said with a bit of a smile. "And you are very welcome to our office. You know, we were told that there was a Mr. Lynch arriving, but why did we think it was going to be some old guy?"

Ria felt a pang of jealousy as she had never before felt about her friend. Why did Rosemary always know exactly what to say, how to be funny and flattering and warm at the same time?

"I'm Rosemary, this is Ria, and we are the workforce that keeps this place going, so you have to be very nice to us."

"Oh, I will," Danny promised.

And Ria knew he would probably join the sweepstake as to who would score first with Rosemary. Probably would win, as well. Oddly he seemed to be talking to Ria when he spoke, but maybe she was just imagining it. Rosemary went on. "We were just looking for somewhere to go out and celebrate Ria's new coat."

"Great! Well, we have the excuse, all we need is the place and to know how long a lunch break so that I don't make a bad impression on my first day." His extraordinary smile went from one to the other; they were the only three people in the world.

Ria couldn't say anything; her mouth was totally dry.

"If we're out and back in under an hour then I think we'll do well," said Rosemary.

"So now it's only where?" Danny Lynch said, looking straight at Ria. This time there were only two of them in the world. She still couldn't speak.

"There's an Italian place across the road," Rosemary said. "It would cut down on time getting there and back."

"Let's go there," said Danny Lynch, without taking his eyes away from Ria Johnson.

Afterward Ria could remember nothing of the lunch. Rosemary told her they talked about work, the houses on their books.


Danny was twenty-three. His uncle had been a real estate agent. Well, he had been a bit of everything in a small town, a publican, an undertaker, but he also had an agent's license and that's where Danny had gone to work when he left school. They had sold grain and fertilizer and hay as well as cattle and small farms, but as Ireland changed, property became important. And then he had gone to Cork City and he loved it all, and now he had just gotten this job in Dublin.

He was as excited as a child on Christmas Day, and Rosemary and Ria were carried along with him all the way. He said he hated being in the office and loved being out with clients, but then didn't everyone? He knew it would take time before he'd get that kind of freedom in Dublin. He had been to Dublin often but never lived there.

And where was he staying? Rosemary had never seemed so interested in anyone before. Ria watched glumly. Every man in the office would have killed to see the light in the eyes, the interest in every word. She never inquired where any of her other colleagues lived, she didn't seem to know if they had any accommodation at all. But with Danny it was different. "Tell us now that you don't live miles and miles away, do you?" Rosemary had her head on one side. No man on earth could resist giving Rosemary his address and finding out where she lived too. But Danny didn't seem to regard it as a personal exchange; it was part of the general conversation. He spoke looking from one to the other as he told them how he had fallen on his feet. He really had the most amazing bit of luck. There was this man he had met, a sort of madman really called Sean O'Brien, old and confused. A real recluse. And he had inherited a great big house on Tara Road, and he wasn't capable of doing it up, and he didn't want all the bother
and the discussing of it and all so what he really wanted was a few fellows to go in and live there. Fellows were easier than girls, they didn't want things neat and clean and organized. He smiled apologetically at them as if to say he knew that fellows were hopeless.

So that's where he and two other lads lived. They had a room each, and kept an eye on the place until poor old Sean decided what he was going to do. Suited everybody.

What kind of a house was it, the girls wanted to know?

Tara Road was very higgledy-piggledy. Big houses with gardens full of trees, small houses facing right on the street. No. 16 was a great old house, Danny said. Falling down, damp, shabby now. Poor Sean O'Brien's old uncle must have been a bit of a no-hoper like Sean himself, it must have been a great house once. You got a feel for houses, didn't you? Otherwise, why be in this business at all.

Ria sat with her chin in her hands listening to Danny and looking at him and looking at him. He was so enthusiastic. The place had a big overrun garden, and an orchard even at the back. It was one of those houses that just put out its arms and hugged you.

Rosemary must have kept the conversation going and called for the check. They walked across the road back to work and Ria sat down at her desk. Things don't happen like this in real life. It's only a crush or an infatuation. He's a perfectly ordinary small guy with a line of chatter. He is exactly like this to everyone else. So why on earth did she feel that he was totally special, and that if he got to share all his plans and dreams with anyone else she would kill the other person. This wasn't the kind of way people went on. Then she remembered her sister's wedding the day before. That wasn't the way people went on either.

Before the office closed Ria went over to Danny Lynch's desk. "I'm going to be twenty-two tomorrow," she said. "I wondered . . ." Then she got stuck.

He helped her out. "Are you having a party?"

"Not really, no."

"Then can we celebrate it together. Today the coat, tomorrow being twenty-two. Who knows what we'll have to celebrate by Wednesday?"

And then Ria knew that it wasn't a crush or an infatuation, it was love. The kind of thing she had only read about, heard about, sung about, or seen at the cinema. And it had come to find her in her own office.


From the Audio Cassette edition.

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

Before the live bn.com chat, Maeve Binchy agreed to answer some of our questions.

Q:  Who are some of your favorite Irish authors? American ones?

A:  Irish: William Trevor -- gentle, observant, sensitive. Jennifer Johnston -- passionate, pacifist, wise. Roddy Doyle -- young, outrageous, funny.

American: Gore Vidal, Tom Wolfe, John O'Hara, Elmore Leonard, Kurt Vonnegut, David Baldacci.

Q:  For those of us who have never been to Dublin, please tell us about Tara Road, and why it was the perfect setting for your book.

A:  It is, of course, an imaginary road but based on many of the big streets in residential Dublin: a long, winding road with three- or four-story red brick Victorian houses, small enclosed front gardens, bigger rambling backyards, all built in imitation Georgian style with fanlights over the hall doors. Some are wealthy and well-kept and beautifully renovated; some are shabby and have several apartments and bicycles in the hallway! It's a good setting for a story because people of every age and social class could live there.

Q:  If some good friends of yours were to visit Ireland for the very first time, where would you tell them to visit in order to see Ireland as you see it?

A:  Because I'm a "Dub," a person who comes from Dublin, I obviously love this part best. It's a lovely, young, eager city now, with nearly a million people, but you can get out to the sea and the mountains very quickly. But to be very honest, I think that visitors should go to the west and look at the lovely sunsets over the Atlantic and wave out at the nearest parish in that direction -- which is the United States. I particularly love two areas, West Cork, with its hundreds of tiny and marvelous little guest houses, and County Clare, where you hear such great music played everywhere you go.

Q:  What inspired your latest, Tara Road?

A:  We once did a home exchange; it wasn't as adventurous or dramatic, nor indeed done to get over a tragedy, but I will always remember how close I felt to the people whose house we borrowed and how well I knew them when the two months were over. There's a huge bond between people who live in each other's homes. We know all each other's secrets!

Q:  Go to the nearest window and describe for us what you see.

A:  We work upstairs in a specially built kind of studio/office full of windows. My husband, Gordon Snell, is also a writer, and so this place is full of books, files, laptops, printers, gadgets, stationery, et cetera. Our two deeply loved but not very bright cats, Tex and Sheelagh, sleep on the windowsills all day opening their eyes occasionally to ensure that we are working hard enough to afford their cat food. Outside the window is a roof garden with a lot of container plants and a table and chairs for the sunny days. And beyond that there are the roofs and hills of Dalkey, once a village, now more like a suburb, ten miles south of Dublin. It's where I grew up years ago and where we live now.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 187 )
Rating Distribution

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(107)

4 Star

(39)

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(21)

2 Star

(15)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 187 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 24, 2009

    You can't please everyone ...

    I feel very alone in my opinion on this book... so many people seem to have loved it. I am the kind of person who feels that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it... but I rely so heavily on these reviews when purchasing a book so I felt it necessary to voice my opinion. Although the book was engaging and hard to put down, I realized that I felt this way out of sheer amazement that all of the characters could be so unlikeable and the situations so unbelieveable. I could not relate to one character... throughout most of the book, I felt myself wanting to slap half of them and say "snap out of it" - especially, the main character, Ria. I will give the author credit for her style and I would agree that the book was well written. She did a nice job at foreshadowing many of the situations with the whole side plot of the fortune teller, however, it was not an enjoyable read for me. It felt like too much drama and not enought heartwarming. I finished it only to be able to make a sound assessment. I guess it just comes down to the fact that you can't please everyone. I know that this is a loved book by many. I just felt absolutely no connection whatsoever to this book, nor would I consider reading another by the author... just not my style.

    16 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2000

    Twists and Turns on Tara Road!

    Maeve Binchy sure knows how to hold your attention. This book is fast pace and keeps you guessing. The ending came up too quickly, and now what happens to Ria, and Annie, and Brian??? A sequel would be great.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I was really eager to start this book and found very entertaining - till the end - there wasn't any ending, it just stopped! The story was great, I loved all the characters, but I wanted to know what happenned in their lives after Ria decided to go it on her own (I think) and what every happenned to the Danny/Ria. and Lady Ryan love triangle? Too many question left unanswered.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2012

    Tara road

    Amazing....excellent read....you people can not be serious....i mean this is a very absurd book...truly not a good read at all what a waste of time....

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 28, 2012

    Recommend - a must read for women who have families.

    Delightful read. Had happy and sad and thoughtful and exciting parts, making it an easy read from page 1 to end. Her best book for me remains to be "Circle of Friends". "Tara Road" may come in as a second. Lost myself in the book often making me feel I was there in Ireland with them in the living room talking with the people.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2006

    Story Doesn't End

    I have never written a review before, but I felt I had to write something in this instance. I loved this book. It was one of the best I'd read in a long time. The character development was excellent as was the story. I couldn't wait to see how it all ended. Unfortunately, it didn't end! She failed to try up any of the story lines. All the issues in the book went unresolved. I assumed that there must be a sequel, but I don't see one. I am very, very disappointed at the ending. I am annoyed that I invested all that time reading this yet I'll never know what happened to the characters. If you are OK with that, the book is enjoyable. However, if you expect stories to end, I would skip this one.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2012

    Realistic, Touching

    I loved this book the first time I read it, and I am now rereading it in its Nook form. A sensitive and honest portrayal of characters who stay with you when the book has ended. I wish I could have lunch with Ria right now and then go shopping with Annie. I highly recommend this lovely book. P.S. I do not like the layout and errors in the Nook format.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    An amazing story

    I loved this book, couldn't put it down!! This was the first book I ever read by this author, however I will definitely be looking into more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 15, 2011

    Great read.

    Highly recommended - a great read. Maeve does such great character studies. She also makes the places come alive in your mind. Loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2011

    written for people. who dont read much

    i found. this book mind numbing. if i had not purchased this. book, i would have put it down..life is too short to read cheesy easy reads.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    great book

    I love her books! Cant wait to read more of hers!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing Read!

    Since I just moved to the area, my neighbor lent me this book while I was in the process of re-building my library. I was so caught up in the story and all the characters that were involved in it. Every single time I picked up the book it felt like an escape into these character's lives. I finally finished the book this morning and I felt happy and yet sad at the same time that it finally came to an end. I couldn't wait to go online and see what other books this author had written. I would definitely buy this book for my own collection and read it once again in a few years.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent read!

    I absolutely loved everything about this book. The characters are real people and the author's writing style is so wonderful, I was hopeful that the book would never end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 11, 2009

    Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Could not put it down. I felt as if I knew each and everyone of the characters, they were so well drawn. I cared very much what happened to them. I heartily recommend this book to one and all and have also given it as a gift. Bookworm1FG

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Tara Road is great

    It was like living on Tara Road, loved all the characters

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2008

    Best book ever!!!

    What an outstanding storyline, my heart will always belong to Tara Road!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 1999

    Fun... however???

    I really enjoyed this book, yet I disliked it in the same breath. When I read a book I want the author to move me, create an escape, and lead me into another world away from the one I live in daily. This book didn't pull that off, but it was trivial and interesting!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2014

    Very good

    Good story

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2013

    Love th fanfic

    Sounds exactly like a warriors book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2013

    ITS SHAWSOME

    Its the combo of shuper and awsome its SHAWSOME more more!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 187 Customer Reviews

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