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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.
“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
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Bex on 05-21-14
What Just Happened?
This book reminds me of Maeve Binchy's previous book Minding Frankie. As with Minding Frankie, the book tells many stories of many people. I honestly lost track of who was who, what their story was and by the end of the book I had no idea who was connected to whom, how, and what the point of the whole book was except for compiling a myriad of short stories into one.
A week after I had finished this book, a friend mentioned this book to me and I didn't remember that I had just read it. I thought maybe I had read the excerpt but not the whole book! I checked my audible app and sure enough I had listened to the whole thing!
So now I'm wondering....What was the plot? Was there one? Did I go into a deep coma and miss the whole book? Did each story of betrayal become one story on repeat and my brain shut-off? The only feeling this book left me with was a feeling that anyone I love will inevitably cheat, betray and leave me...because that's what happens to each of the main characters in this book.
I've read many of Maeve's books, and each book seems to have this similar tale of love, betrayal, healing and forgiveness. Unfortunately, I think this was a poorly constructed book and I'm sorry this is probably the last book that will be published by Maeve Binchy.
I cannot recommend this book, but if you are a Maeve Binchy fan you may as well listen to it. Maybe you'll have more patience or understanding and can explain it to me.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Jean on 05-26-14
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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful