Chestnut Street

  • by Maeve Binchy
  • Narrated by Sile Bermingham
  • 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Maeve Binchy imagined a street in Dublin with many characters coming and going, and every once in a while she would write about one of these people. She would then put it in a drawer; “for the future,” she would say. The future is now.
Across town from St. Jarlath’s Crescent, featured in Minding Frankie, is Chestnut Street, where neighbors come and go. Behind their closed doors we encounter very different people with different life circumstances, occupations, and sensibilities. Some of the unforgettable characters lovingly brought to life by Binchy are Bucket Maguire, the window cleaner, who must do more than he bargained for to protect his son; Nessa Byrne, whose aunt visits from America every summer and turns the house - and Nessa’s world - upside down; Lilian, the generous girl with the big heart and a fiancé whom no one approves of; Melly, whose gossip about the neighbors helps Madame Magic, a self-styled fortune-teller, get everyone on the right track; Dolly, who discovers more about her perfect mother than she ever wanted to know; and Molly, who learns the cure for sleeplessness from her pen pal from Chicago...
Chestnut Street is written with the humor and understanding that are earmarks of Maeve Binchy’s extraordinary work and, once again, she warms our hearts with her storytelling.


What the Critics Say

“Gives us one last extraordinary look at ordinary people as they struggle with family relationships, romances gone awry, and the possibility for a better future. . . . One finds here insightful observations about human nature—all with Binchy’s thoughtful and loving touch that will be sorely missed.” —Publishers Weekly

“Binchy was well-known for creating realistic characters who interact in ordinary ways, in ordinary places. . . . Her many fans are sure to line up to read this.” —Booklist


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Women Wronged

First, I should say I’ve read most of Maeve Binchy’s books and am a big fan. However, this volume, published after her death, might better be considered an unfinished work. It’s a collection of 36 stories, only loosely connected by the street on which some of the characters live (in some cases it’s a tangential connection). Most of the stories end rather abruptly, and knowing Binchy’s previous work, I expect she would have connected some of the stories and characters, and possibly have fleshed out some of the characters and expanded some stories had she lived to help in the editing process.

Certainly she would have brought some element into the book to redeem the otherwise gloomy outlook. Of the 36 stories, there are but three that might be considered optimistic. These are all character studies of mostly sad, wronged women who work hard and are continually disappointed in their relationships with parents, siblings, friends, and especially men. The men, in all but four of these stories, are drunks, gamblers, philanderers, drug dealers, unethical businessmen, workaholics, neglectful and cheating husbands and boyfriends, and absent fathers.

The narrator has a pleasant Irish accent, but she also has a lisp that is sometimes distracting, and there is no attempt made at differentiating characters through voice; so they all sound exactly alike.
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- Scott "Wine, food and travel writer, editor, novelist."

A great collection of short stories

I discovered the Irish writer and playwright, Maeve Binchy about 8 years ago. I enjoyed her stories loaded with wisdom and warmth, I soon learned that was the hallmark of her fiction. Binchy died about two years ago. I was so sad that no more great stories would be coming from her. But lo and behold, when her husband, Gordon Snell, was sorting her papers he found a collection of short stories she wrote over many years in her spare time. The common denominator of the stories was the protagonists all lived on Binchy’s fictional Dublin Chestnut Street. Binchy’s publisher put them altogether and published them in this posthumous book. We have a cast of characters including the lonely, the unfulfilled, and the dispossessed troop across the page, along with bricks, good eggs, late starters, and generally anyone who can give the rest of us a glimmer of hope. Maeve’s characters include nurses, shopkeepers, window cleaners, teachers, and various salt of the earth characters as true to life here as they are out in the street. There are also, of courses, the deadbeat men, the unfaithful, men abandoning their wives or girlfriends after birth of their child. I have read that Binchy had an unhappy love affair with a married man in her twenties; rarely can personal unhappiness have been put to such fruitful professional use. We all know tragic characters are considerably more interesting than happy ones. My favorite story in the book was “Fair Exchange” a woman about sixty and a twelve year old boy decide to help each other out. The twelve year old will provide the woman with lesion on how to use her new computer and she will give him cooking lesions along the way they developed a deep mutual respect: “you’ve so bright Ivy said wistfully, your young mind is like a sponge—you take everything in…’ ‘Yours isn’t bad either,’ Sandy said, ‘it’s a bit deeper than mine, actually’.” Maeve Binchy was famous for her narrative journalism for the “Irish Times.” She published her first work of fiction in 1978, it was a collection of short stories “Central Hire”, perhaps it’s fitting that this last book also contains short stories. Sile Bermingham did a good job narrating the book.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-22-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio