I highly encourage you to read Ms. Binchy if you love books about people who have issues, but live them out with their community. It is probably better if you have read her stuff in order but certainly not necessary. Binchy’s characters pop up in most of the stories and you feel as if you know them all so well. This story takes place around St. Jarlath’s street. A young man, Noel, who is on a certain path of destruction is going about his very boring life in a very self centred way. He has no goals, doesn’t socialize with anyone and has been routinely getting drunk at work.
One day he gets a call that will change his life, of course, otherwise there would be no storyline. How he decides to proceed could be the making or breaking of him. Noel learns he is about to become a father. The mother is literally dying and won’t even get to meet their daughter. She asks if Noel will raise their child. Some things will have to change for Noel if he is to take on the challenge but with encouragement from Emily, his cousin from America and support from the entire community it is possible. Hence the title Minding Frankie. What adds to the anxiety of the situation is a social worker who is given Noel’s case. She is extremely fastidious and feels it is her job to make sure no harm comes to those in her care. All well and good except she makes Noel’s life, and those around him who help care for Frankie, awful. She doesn’t believe in a community helping raise a child and makes it very clear to all of them how she feels.
Cousin Emily has recently made some major life decisions back at home and helps the folks in Dublin to do the same. Initially she is just interested in getting to know her extended family but as times goes on she truly falls in love with Ireland and the people of the neighbourhood in Dublin. In a kind of ‘Love Actually’ way our characters’ lives intertwine. Emily works part time at the heart clinic where one of the doctors who work there lives down the road from Noel and his parents. He is married to one of the nurses who is pregnant and due to deliver her baby the same time as Frankie is due. And so on and so on. Binchy at her best!