Along with more celebrated authors like Walt Whitman and Edith Wharton, I have to say that one of my favorite go-to authors is Maeve Binchy, who writes Irish women’s fiction that gets carried in supermarkets and airports and featured on Oprah. She’s the kind of writer it’s easy to be snobby about, I think, but in spite, or because of, that, I love her work, whole-heartedly.
I love Binchy’s work because she makes me feel like I understand modern Ireland, though I’ve never been there. I love her because she deliberately writes about class-consciousness in a candid, clear-eyed way accessible to any audience. I love her because I sat up late one night this week, sobbing and wiping away tears as I read her newest book, Minding Frankie, which introduces new characters while also continuing some from my favorite book of hers, Scarlet Feather. I love her because she sees human nature with all its faults and flaws and still decides to see the heart inside each of us, making her characters fully realized and deeply authentic. I love her because she writes about friendship and food and love and the frailty of our most important relationships, and the courage it takes to live in a world where we are so defenseless. I love her because she’s not afraid to write a happy ending, and because she knows exactly who her audience is, but isn’t afraid to challenge them too. I love her because her books are often described as “cozy” or “heartwarming” or “comfort reading,” and sometimes, that’s exactly what I need.
And no, this isn’t an April Fool’s post, in case you were wondering!
- Maeve Binchy’s ‘Minding Frankie’: one motherless baby, many willing minders (seattletimes.nwsource.com)