|Portrait by Maeve McCarthy, National Gallery, Dublin|
Maeve Binchy, one of my favorite authors, died yesterday in Dublin at the age of 72. She was a gifted writer, and depicted Ireland, rural and urban, past and present, in such a way that it came alive for me. Her main characters were strong women faced with difficult situations and decisions, but who always prevailed in the end.
I was introduced to Ms. Binchy's writing by my Mom (an avid reader herself), who gave me her copy of Firefly Summer after she finished reading it. She wrote in the front cover: "Good book!", and I agreed!
I read every book that Maeve Binchy wrote, along with her some of her short stories, essays and non-fiction books. When we went to Ireland, I found a couple of books that were published there that I wasn't able to find in the United States (Aches and Pains and Maeve Binchy's Writer's Club). I was lucky enough to see her portrait (above) in the National Gallery in Dublin.
Her best writing happened after 2000, when she announced that Scarlet Feather was going to be her last book, which prompted a huge protest by her readers. She went on to write several more novels, which featured new characters, but also brought back some of the most beloved characters from Scarlet Feather and her subsequent books. Scarlet Feather is my favorite of her novels, featuring, again, a strong woman, Cathy Scarlet, and her colorful family and friends.
I loved reading Maeve Binchy's books, and I was happy to hear that her last novel A Week In Winter, will be published later this year. I will miss her writing so much! It has meant a great deal to me over the years.
Rest in peace, Maeve, and I hope you are in heaven, drinking a cup of coffee with Mom, discussing your books!