GENRES: Literary Fiction, Women's Fiction
It’s spring time in Ohio. Finally, I guess. As a girl raised in Colorado, I’m used to a winter that can rear its ugly head all the way into May, or even June or July if you live in the higher elevations. Of course, in Colorado you can have beautiful, sunny days reaching into the 70’s in January. Weather in Colorado is incredibly wonky–but I’ve decided that almost every state says that–except California, who seems to think every day there is sunny. Every day is not sunny in California, but don’t tell them that.
Back to Ohio. Ohio does have some weather fluctuations, but there almost one constant. It is gray A LOT of the year. Sunny days are celebrated and loved. It took me a while to adjust; Colorado is sunny almost all the time, except when it is snowing or, in the summer, an afternoon thunderstorm. But I have adjusted, and have celebrated the last few sunny days along with my fellow Ohioans. All the sun came to an end last night, with the loud crash boom of a sudden thunderstorm, and now we have a rainy day. I really don’t mind. Except that I have to work, and I would rather hibernate under a warm comforter and read my Kindle all day. My work day doesn’t start until noon or so, so today I did cuddle up and read. I did not go to the gym (my excuse? My hair was colored yesterday, today was my swimming day, and I didn’t want to mess up my new wonderful color), so I snuck back under my down comforter and read. And read comfort. I read Maeve Binchy. So, onto that review.
“Because we always regret what we don’t do, rarely what we do do.”
I don’t know why but I went off of Binchy for awhile. And by awhile I mean about four years. May be I was feeling high brow and eschewing all feel-good literature. Maybe I was into dark mysteries. Maybe, because my senior thesis was on James Joyce, I was feeling Binchy would be too happy, too ‘comforting’, compared to Joyce. Maybe it was because I always read her when I went to my mother-in-law’s house and she passed away, and reading Binchy made me sad. I think it was that last one, since I’m tearing up a bit now.
Any way, I decided to read her again last week when I heard about her passing. Her books are a bit of fluff, but fluff like going to your hometown and only seeing the good parts. Fluff like going to your grandma’s, who doesn’t say anything about your faults and even spoils you a bit. Fluff that makes you feel good even though you know outside there is a world where everything is not perfect, where you have to pay your bills, and make dinner for your family. So I fell into the fluff. And it was awesome.
Binchy creates a wonderous vision of Ireland, mainly Dublin, where everyone is closely connected and all the wrongs are righted in the end. She has a knack for bringing back many characters from earlier books, much like another favorite, Stephen King (although they are nothing alike, they do share this tendency). This makes Dublin seem like a big community where everyone is only one connection away from the shopkeeper down the street. Because of this large sense of community, all it takes is for the right people to meet and the lonely fall in love, alcoholics see the light, bitchy women get there comeuppance and apologize to those they hurt, misunderstandings are straightened out, and adulterers, drug dealers, and/or women beaters are kicked to the curb and usually meet a bad end. Just as we wish it was in real life.
While I was reading this book I found myself reading (mostly in my head, but sometimes out loud) with an Irish accent, inserting words like ‘GRAND’ and ‘LOVELY’ every once and awhile. I nestled in and didn’t want to put the book down. I wanted to go to St. Brigid’s Heart Center and get a job just so I could be part of this wonderful Ireland.
I did not want Heart and Soul to end, as I remember feeling with all Binchy books. I wanted to curl up and continue to be engulfed in this world. Ensconced. Enmeshed. Entranced. Hmm, I may have to pick up another Binchy book for tonight. Her books make me smile and sigh contendedly, and I don’t think this is a bad thing. In fact, I think every once and awhile a book should make you smile and sigh. Everyone needs a reason for that.
The newest Binchy book is A Week in Winter, published a couple of months ago. It’s on my to read list, but will have to wait a bit. I wish I could jump right in, but I have so many books on my Kindle that I can’t justify it. I’ll wait for another rainy day or a sad patch in life, whichever comes first, and then take the trip back to Ireland. I can’t wait to be sad.