I’ve always felt that reading a story written by the Irish author, Maeve Binchy, was like sitting in front of a fire on a rainy afternoon, enjoying a home-made bowl of soup. The comfort she provided in her books was incomparable.
I had been reading her novels and short stories for years before I actually had the privilege of getting to know the woman herself. When I was losing my husband, Rick, to cancer nearly ten years ago my world was shattering and I anticipated needing all the comfort I could get. Something compelled me to write to Maeve. I explained that though I’d purchased a copy of her latest book, I planned on putting off reading it. I thought that I’d leave it for a time down the line when I needed even more comfort.
I never expected a response to my letter but one day I found a postcard from her in my mailbox. She had written to tell me how sorry she was for what I was going through and that began a correspondence that continued for many years. When I mentioned to Maeve that I was a writer, she asked me to send her copies of what I’d written. I sent her a copy of my first novel, Groomed for Murder (GFM is presently available as an e-book but at that time it was not.)
After Rick passed away Maeve sent me a copy of her play, Deeply Regretted By, which she felt would resonate with me. It was excellent as was all her work. When my sister and I visited Ireland in 2006, I thought I’d be able to meet Maeve in person but unfortunately neither of our schedules allowed for that to happen.
Maeve Binchy was beloved to her readers, a national treasure in Ireland and deservedly so. Her books were translated into 37 languages and she sold upwards of 40 million copies worldwide. Maeve’s earlier novels, like Light a Penny Candle , dealt with small-town Ireland but as Ireland changed and became more sophisticated, her stories reflected that change. Her characters were all well developed and sometimes flawed but always real. And the endings to her books were always, always satisfying.
Two of her books were turned into films: Tara Road and Circle of Friends. If you’ve never read one of her novels, I highly recommend that you start now.
Maeve was devoted to Gordon Snell, her husband of many years, and though she suffered from health problems as she got older, by her own account she had a rich, rewarding life.
I’m glad to have called her my friend.
On another note…this is the first blog I’ve posted in a while because I’ve been busy with other writing but I intend to do so more frequently now. I am in the process of editing (with the incredible assistance of my daughter, Allie) the second draft of a new suspense novel I’ve written and will be blogging to let you know how it is progressing.
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