Maeve Binchy is one of the bestselling authors around - and one of the best storytellers. Her books have been adapted for both television and the cinema. She lives in Dublin.
That Binchy (Circle of Friends) would choose to enter the Christmas market should not be a surprise. Her wide audience enjoys the warmth of her fiction, the emphasis on the power of love to transform ordinary lives‘even as she acknowledges that for some people, love is elusive or the prelude to frustration and heartbreak. Here she presents 15 short stories that take place during the holiday season; all display her deft rendering of family relationships and the stresses of contemporary life. Unfortunately, however, these tales are formulaic and superficial. We meet women unable to spend Christmas with their married men, children from broken homes, aged parents for whom Christmas is an ordeal rather than a pleasure, couples trying to resolve the past, lonely souls looking for a future. Several stories feature second wives whose husbands are oblivious to the machinations of their (always beautiful but selfish) first spouses. While the characters and their predicaments are potentially interesting, as soon as her narratives begin to develop, Binchy catapults forward to disappointingly simplistic endings. Readers will yearn for more: more character development, more detail, less fast-forwarding, fewer perky or maudlin conclusions. These tales are fine for a fast read during a busy season, but many will wish that Binchy had instead developed one of them into a novel that would do justice to her characters and themes. (Nov.)
Stories from the beloved Irish author.