Talk about mixed emotions when reading this book! As a confirmed Binchy fan I was gobsmacked when the author died last year right after finishing this book. I wanted to savour the entire thing but one cannot do that when it comes to her books. You want to know what is going to happen with each and every character and so therefore whip through the thing as quickly as possible. There is nothing different here. The stories all circle around a small town on the west coast of Ireland, the families that live there, and the people who visit. This book covers many decades but lands in modern times so it is really easy to get stuck in and go with the flow of all the stories.
The main characters are female and amazingly strong. These ladies endure traditional homes that do not understand the new ways of the world to go out and make their dreams come true. There are heartbreaks and some dodgy situations as well as great men who are there for them and some who aren’t. This isn’t so far from reality. We deal with many different people in our walks in this world and not all are scrupulous people.
One of Ms. Binchy’s characters follows a lover to America. Her family thinks she is mad and let her and the entire town know this. Things don’t go exactly according to plan but now she has a façade to keep up. There are many scenarios like this and the entire book culminates in a week in winter at a new hotel in the little town in the west country. I know that some of the people in the book change their lives in such dramatic ways that they can hardly be believed but it can happen and we just love it when they do go ahead and start behaving appropriately. There are a couple of characters here that go from being in trouble with the law to becoming extremely responsible people – maybe a little Polly Anna-ish but the author has such a way with words that you really come to care for each and every one of them.
To say I was sad at the end of reading this book would be an understatement. All I could think about was how we are never going to hear about the residents of Tara Road again or the owners of Quentins or Scarlet Feather. I guess I will just have to use my imagination, which I have relied so heavily on lovely Maeve for so very long. She will be missed – you feel as if you know a person when you have read everything they have written and I am sure we would have been friends had we met!