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Maeve's Times: In Her Own Words
     

Maeve's Times: In Her Own Words

3.4 8
by Maeve Binchy
 

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Five decades of selected writings from the Irish Times by the beloved and best-selling author, filled with her hallmark humor, candor, and wisdom-a timeless gift to her legion of fans.

Maeve Binchy once confessed: "As someone who fell off a chair not long ago trying to hear what they were saying at the next table in a restaurant, I

Overview

Five decades of selected writings from the Irish Times by the beloved and best-selling author, filled with her hallmark humor, candor, and wisdom-a timeless gift to her legion of fans.

Maeve Binchy once confessed: "As someone who fell off a chair not long ago trying to hear what they were saying at the next table in a restaurant, I suppose I am obsessively interested in what some might consider the trivia of other people's lives." She was an accidental journalist, yet from the beginning, her writings reflected the warmth, wit, and keen human interest that readers would come to love in her fiction. From the royal wedding to boring airplane companions, Samuel Beckett to Margaret Thatcher, "senior moments" to life as a waitress, Maeve's Times gives us wonderful insight into a changing Ireland as it celebrates the work of one of our best-loved writers in all its diversity-revealing her characteristic directness, laugh-out-loud humor, and unswerving gaze into the true heart of a matter.

“Binchy’s wry, self-effacing style reminds one of a Celtic Nora Ephron. . . . [She] throws a spotlight on strong, imperfect women confronting complicated challenges.” —The Christian Science Monitor

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
08/01/2014
As any reader of Binchy's novels (Tara Road; Chestnut Street) knows, the beloved—and successful—Irish writer could tell a story. She was doing that long before she ever wrote a novel; Binchy's letters home to her family from when she traveled abroad as a young teacher were so engaging, her husband explains in the book's foreword, that her father submitted them to the Irish Times, and they were published. This began a 50-year association with the newspaper, with Binchy contributing columns even after finding fame with her books. This warm, down-to-earth collection of her contributions is a best-of that is arranged chronologically in sections covering from the 1960s through the 2000s, and it works wonderfully. Fans of the author's novels will enjoy learning more about her early life and about an earlier Ireland. Very delightful is Binchy's familiar tendency to explore things that are not regularly discussed—mostly not because they are unmentionable, but because they're so ordinary that they're overlooked. In one piece, for example, she expresses relief that tights have been invented, while another investigates the various reasons why people hate the month of February. There are gentle laughs aplenty, which will be no surprise to fans. What may be a revelation is that the author also tackled some controversial and upsetting subjects. One column, for example, discusses the hard life faced by Irish people who must work in England, and another describes the journey undertaken by a young woman who is surprised at the humanity she finds when she travels to that country to have the abortion she can't get at home. VERDICT Fans of Binchy, as well as readers curious about Irish life over the years will savor this often-light read (but should be ready with the hanky at times).—Henrietta Verma, Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
08/04/2014
Binchy’s trademark warmth, humor, and humanity characterize this volume, which collects five decades of her reporting for the Irish Times (1960s–2000s). The wide-ranging topics reveal a journalist far more interested in people than places or events, though quiet references to IRA bombings, Thatcher’s Britain, the conflict in Cyprus, and second-wave feminism prove Binchy (Circle of Friends) was as savvy about politics she was about character. Wit, sarcasm, and big-heartedness emerge as hallmarks of Binchy’s “direct and uncluttered style.” Additionally, readers will enjoy her avid and unrestrained curiosity, the “wish to enter into other people’s lives,” which inspires her to eavesdrop on fellow diners, travelers, and passersby. “Wouldn’t you want to follow almost everyone home?” she remarks while observing people at a beach. While the collection makes an enjoyable read on the merit of humor alone, editor Ingle’s selections capture Binchy’s journalistic apprenticeship, record an intelligent woman’s perspective on a changing world, and offer entertaining glimpses of biography that Binchy fans will adore. Agent: Christine Green. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Binchy’s innate ability to find that common thread that unites us in our humanity is front and center.” —USA Today

“Wonderfully clear, caring and humorous prose. . . . Maeve’s fresh voice and spirit are captured in these pieces.” —Buffalo News

“Binchy’s wry, self-effacing style reminds one of a Celtic Nora Ephron. . . . [She] throws a spotlight on strong, imperfect women confronting complicated challenges.” —The Christian Science Monitor

 “Brimming with Binchy’s intelligence, incisive wit, straightforwardness and incomparable charm.” —Burnley Express

“A brilliant anthology. . . . Maeve Binchy the journalist always had something meaningful to say, just as much so in 1964 as in 2011. . . . If you’re among the few people on this planet who have never read a Maeve Binchy book, start with Maeve’s Times. Then you’ll truly understand how the outstanding reporter formed the iconic novelist.” —Bookreporter.com 

“Like the best journalism, Maeve's newspaper pieces stand the test of time.” —Irish Independent

“Binchy’s trademark warmth, humor, and humanity characterize this volume. . . . Record[s] an intelligent woman's perspective on a changing world, and offer[s] entertaining glimpses of biography that Binchy fans will adore." —Publishers Weekly

“Delightful. . . [A] warm, down-to-earth collection . . . Fans of the author’s novels will enjoy learning more about her early life and about an earlier Ireland.” —Library Journal

“This collection of Binchy’s trademark columns celebrates her unabashed delight in the human condition. . . . For the legions of fans who mourned her passing, this revelatory collection of essays brings a little of their cherished Maeve back, and then some.” —Booklist

“A blithe, entertaining collection that will surely delight Binchy's many fans.” —Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-05
Newspaper pieces by a prolific novelist and playwright. Binchy (Chestnut Street, 2014, etc.) began her writing career as a journalist for the Irish Times, starting out as women's editor, from 1968 to 1973, and continuing as columnist, feature writer and reporter based in the newspaper's London office; in 1988, she resigned a full-time position but contributed regularly until her death in 2012. This selection of her work represents Binchy's eclectic interests, infectious sense of humor and wry take on social change. In early pieces, she reflected on her experiences as a waitress and choosing underwear in Australia. She didn't much like her body (she was always overweight) and compared herself to those more slender and well dressed. In 1976, she tried a week of self-improvement, following suggestions in a women's magazine, but failed to transform herself into one of the "new brand of unreal woman." Nevertheless, she was a successful writer, and she also gleefully reported on the doings of the royals. In 1973, she was at Westminster Abbey ("lit up like an operating theatre") for the wedding of Princess Anne to Mark Phillips, where Grace Kelly was among the guests, "staring into space, looking like she always looked, kind of immaculate." In 1981, her subjects were the fairy-tale couple, Charles and Diana. Binchy was not surprised when they separated in 1987: "[T]here were always aspects of the royal romance that spelled danger from the word go." She noticed that Sarah Ferguson, "a bit pudgy for a princess," was on a strict diet. Unable to attend, she watched Kate and William's wedding on TV: "I miss the magic of the English losing all their reserve," she noted ruefully. A bit intimidated by Samuel Beckett, she nevertheless produced an insightful portrait of her compatriot, with his "spikey hair" and "ludicrous energy." A blithe, entertaining collection that will surely delight Binchy's many fans.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385353465
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/2014
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
218,597
File size:
3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Pageantry and Splendour at Westminster for the Royal Wedding
 15 November 1973

The ushers were simply delighted to see me.

‘Splendid,’ they said, ‘absolutely splendid. Let’s have a little look. Oh, yes, seat number 17 this way. Super view, and just beside the telly, too. Super!’ They could have been brothers of my dearest friend, instead of members of Mark Phillips’ regiment examining the press ticket, which had cost £23.

Westminster Abbey was lit up like an operating theatre; the light from the chandeliers was only like candlelight compared to the television lights. Well, since 500 million people, including the Irish, were meant to be looking in, I suppose you had to have it bright enough to see something. There was plenty to see from the top of a scaffolding over the north transept. Grace Kelly staring into space, looking like she always looked, kind of immaculate.

Rainier has aged a bit oddly and looks like Marlon Brando in The Godfather. Harold Wilson, all smiles and straightening his tie, his wife looking as if she were about to compose the final poem on the occasion. Jeremy Thorpe was all giggles and jauntiness, Heath looked like a waxwork.

Anthony Barber looked suitably preoccupied, as well he might, with a State-of-Emergency going on outside the Abbey doors, and Whitelaw looked as if it was his first day off in two years. There were a lot of people whose faces I thought I knew, but it was no help asking for advice on either side. The man from the Manchester Evening News seemed to be writing an extended version of War and Peace in a notebook and on my right an agency reporter was transcribing a file of cuttings.

And then the royals started to arrive. We could see them on the television set – which was six inches from me – leaving Buckingham Palace in their chariots, and like characters stepping out of a film, they suddenly turned up a hundred feet below our seats. The Queen Mother looked the way she has ever looked – aged 56 and benign. The Queen looked thin and unhappy in a harsh blue outfit. Princess Margaret looked like a lighting devil with a cross face and an extraordinary hideous coat, which may have been some multi- coloured fur. But then was there ever an animal or even a selection of animals that would have been given such a coat by Nature.

The Phillips’ parents looked sick with nerves; nobody in the place was hating it as much as they were. Mother Phillips nearly tore her gloves to shreds, father Phillips let his invitation fall and it struck me as odd that the groom’s parents should have had to carry an invitation at all. The son and heir stood smiling and resplendent in scarlet, dimpling and smiling, and you felt that if all else failed and he doesn’t become a brigadier or something in six months, he will have a great living in toothpaste commercials.
           
The Dean of Westminster, who is a very civilised, cheerful sort of man, was sort of happy about it all, and so was the Archbishop of Canterbury. They beamed all round them and extracted a few return grins from the nervous-looking lot in the VIP seats. The choirboys looked suitably angelic and uncomfortable in their ruffs. One of them got his fingers caught behind his neck and had to have it released.

The trumpeters were noble and rallying, and the Beefeaters were traditionally beefy. Everything was as it should be in fact, as we waited for the bride.

About three seconds after the glass coach had left Buckingham Palace with Anne and her father we were all handed two pages of strictly embargoed details about the wedding dress: it would have threatened national security to have had it before, apparently. Journalists all around me were devouring it and rewriting the details of seed pearls and 1,000 threads of 20-denier silk to every inch of the garment. When she arrived at the door of the Abbey there was a bit of excitement about arranging the train and adjusting the tiara, and the bride looked as edgy as if it were the Badminton Horse Trials and she was waiting for the bell to gallop off.

Up at the altar all the royals looked out as eagerly and anxiously as if they thought the Duke of Edinburgh and his only daughter might have dropped off for a pint on the way. The Queen actually smiled when they got into sight and Mark gave a matinee-idol shy, rueful smile. Princess Margaret read her programme of the wedding service as if it were the latest Agatha Christie that she had promised to finish before lunchtime.

The Duke of Edinburgh went and sat beside his wife and mother- in-law and seemed to have a far greater control over his sword than did Prince Charles, who carried his as if it were an umbrella. I was waiting for half his relatives to have their legs amputated but there must have been some kind of plastic top on it because nobody seemed to be maimed or anything when they were leaving.

The service went as planned and the young voices were clear and loud, as everyone remarked approvingly afterwards, no coyness or nervous stutters. There were a lot of hymns, and I saw the Queen singing her head off, but gloomily, and the Phillips parents sang, too, nervously on their side.

Then off they galloped down the aisle and it was over. And do I mean over! There was no hooley in the palace or anything; the party had been on Monday night. The people who had got all dressed up went home, I suppose. The bridal couple had about nine hours of photographs, and all the people who had been camping on the street packed their spirit stoves into plastic bags and went off for lunch.

It was a superbly organised show, with all the actors playing their parts perfectly, timing and all. Everyone who had a role kept to it: the Duchess of Kent looked sweet and pure English girlhood; Princess Alexandra managed to give the odd vaguely tomboyish grin which she thinks is expected. The Duke of Edinburgh and Lord Snowdon looked as self-effacing as Mark Phillips is beginning to look already. The ushers saw us out, thrilled that we had been able to get there and hoping earnestly that we had a good view of everything. The evening papers were already on the streets with early photographs. ‘The Snow White Princess!’ screamed one headline, as if the readers had expected the bride to wear scarlet jodhpurs.

It was a very well-produced show, no one could deny that, but then the actors are getting slightly above Equity rates.
 
Excerpted from Maeve’s Times by Maeve Binchy. Copyright © 2014 by Gordon Snell. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
 

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.

www.maevebinchy.com


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Brief Biography

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

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Maeve's Times: In Her Own Words 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not the same calibur of writing as her novels
blondelawdawgie More than 1 year ago
Avid readers of Maeve Binchy may be disappointed. This is not a novel in the truest sense of the word and the reader who loves the Binchy novels may be extremely disappointed in this book. It is a collection of shorts written by Binchy over the years. Some are funny or quirky. Some are just plain boring. I will miss the lovely novels that will never come. And seriously treasure the novels written by her. But this book of collections is NOT what I was expecting. I was most disappointed. Fair warning borrow before purchasing! It may not live up to your expectations of what you have come to love about a Binchy novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skipped over some sections, not very interesting.
IrishIL More than 1 year ago
The last book I read that Maeve had written, I thought was a great book and was sorry that it was her last; however I was please to find out her husband has put together writings and notes that he came across. These are short stories, some that she wrote while writing for the "Irish Times" news. No matter each and every story is so well written. You will cry and you will laugh. Please do me a favor and be sure and buy this book. I don't think you will regret it. I'm so sorry that Maeve has left us but her stories will go on forever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have read all of Maeve Binchy's books and enjoyed them all. I miss her and her books - this collection of short stories is most enjoyable - especially if you are a Maeve Binchy fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent choice in reading. A must read post her death. Each story is well written for 'an accidently journalist'!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You'll want to go back and re-read her other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At my age on a very tight book budget fir real and nook but i never get rooked with a h c or s c like i have in nook formatinf or a seven page short for a novel