EXCERPT: John was the youngest of the seven Ryan children and the indulged pet of a mother who had been amazed and delighted at his arrival when she had been sure her family was complete. He had been overfed and given fizzy drinks with sweet cake as long as he could remember. As a lad the running and leaping and cycling miles to a dance had kept him trimmer. Now, between sessions of writing his poetry and serving in his bar, it was a sedentary life.
He didn’t know if he wanted it for his sons; he had such hopes for them – that they might see the world a bit, study and then go on for the University. That had been beyond the dreams of his parents’ generation. Their main dream had been to see their children settled into emigration; the church had helped of course, educating two nuns and two priests out of the Ryan family. John didn’t see any vocation amongst his own offspring. Michael was dreamy and thoughtful: maybe a hermit? Or Dara a resourceful Reverend Mother somewhere? Eddie was a practical child, possibly a missionary brother teaching pagan tribes to build huts and dig canals. Declan, the baby. Maybe they could make a curate out of him near home where they could keep an eye on him.
This was all nonsense, of course. None of them would end up within an asses roar of a religious life. Still, John Ryan never saw the future standing surrounded by three sons and possibly his daughter, all in the trade.
ABOUT THIS AUDIOBOOK: A collection of full-cast dramatisations and readings from the bestselling author
‘There’s nobody like Binchy for warming the cockles’ Times
Maeve Binchy was one of Britain’s best-loved storytellers and this compilation of her finest fiction, as heard on BBC Radio, demonstrates all the warmth, wit and compassion that made her so popular.
Firefly Summer is a moving, humorous novel about a sleepy Irish town facing monumental change, dramatised in six parts with a full cast including David Soul and Lorcan Cranitch.
No Nightingales, No Snakes features full-cast dramatisations of five Maeve Binchy short stories, with a distinguished cast including Niamh Cusack, Sam Dale and Harry Towb.
The Garden Party contains four short stories specially commissioned for BBC Radio 4, read by Niamh Cusack, Dervla Kirwan, Doreen Hepburn and Stella McCusker.
The Homecoming comprises four more stories exclusively written for BBC Radio 4, read by Sean Campion, Joanna Myers, Patricia Hodge and Kate Binchy.
Dealing with families, friendship, love, loss, sorrow and joy, these stories will delight all Maeve Binchy fans. Duration: 6 hours approx
MY THOUGHTS: This was a delightful trip down memory lane. I adore Maeve Binchy and I miss looking forward to a new book coming out from her. I had read Firefly Summer years ago, so that was like meeting up with old friends I hadn’t seen in some time. The short stories were new to me, and I loved them.
And yes, I know that I have categorized this as contemporary-fiction and that for many of you it won’t be, but for me it is. It reflects the era in which I grew up, when we played in the paddocks not coming home until dark, or our mothers were threatening to feed our tea to the dog. We read books rather than screens, there were no mobile phones, and we used our imagination. I am glad to have grown up in this era, it was a magnificent time.
The BBC dramatisations are, as always, excellent. Highly recommended. There really is nobody like Binchy for warming the cockles of the heart.
THE AUTHOR: Maeve Binchy was born on 28 May 1940 in Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland, the eldest child of four. Her parents were very positive and provided her with a happy childhood. Although she described herself as an overweight child, her parents’ attitude gave her the confidence to accept herself for who she was.
She studied at University College Dublin and was a teacher for a while. She also loved traveling, and this was how she found her niche as a writer. She liked going to different places, such as a Kibbutz in Israel, and she worked in a camp in the United States. While she was away, she sent letters home to her parents. They were so impressed with these chatty letters from all over the world that they decided to send them to a newspaper. After these letters were published, Maeve left teaching and became a journalist.
Maeve married Gordon Snell, writer and editor of children’s books. When they were struggling financially, Light a Penny Candle was published, which made her an overnight success. Many of her books, such as Echoes, are set in the past in Ireland. Some of her later novels, such as Evening Class, take place in more modern times. Her books often deal with people who are young, fall in love, have families, and deal with relationship or family problems. The main characters are people whom readers can empathise with.
She passed away on 30 July 2012, at the age of 72.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Maeve Binchy: Collected Stories via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2548670286