Farewell Maeve Binchy

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Dublin door in the rain

It was with a lot of sadness that I read of the passing of Maeve Binchy. It was like the death of a kindly aunt that you had somehow lost track of.
I read my first Maeve Binchy Firefly Summer when I was 17. I remember buying it at the airport en route to Australia from Ireland where I had been for my uncle’s wedding. Feeling somewhat bereft after leaving my lovely extended family (whom I saw all too rarely), the book enveloped me in a warm Irish hug. I read it from Ireland all the way to Hawaii, taking a break for meals and sleep. (It was 1988 and inflight entertainment was limited to a couple of movies projected on scratchy screens) I read through my grief and at the end of the book felt much better.
Working in a public library later in life allowed me to indulge in reading all the Maeve Binchy titles there were. Under the guise of reading knowledge to provide advice to borrowers, I made sure every new book by her crossed my desk. Taking it home, I curled up on the couch and delved into the comforting warmth. I read to the exclusion of my boyfriend, and the housework, and emerged to eat and sleep (a precedent which was reinforced with the arrival of a new Harry Potter book years later…)
I loved the fact she was easy to read, and eminently readable. I loved her short stories, especially those with recurring characters. I don’t really have a favourite book,maybe Light a Penny Candle, Circle of Friends or Evening Class are ones which spring to mind. It wasn’t just the story which drew you in but the feelings of comfort that one drew from the story telling. She was simply a nice writer who wrote nice books.
And then over the years I left public libraries, married, made a family of my own, and I changed. I didn’t need to read her as much(though I recommended her to mum, who loves her too!), and she faded from my radar.
So thank you for the stories and the feelings you generated.
RIP

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