Aproposed highway near the Irish town of Rossmore will mean the destruction of St. Ann's Well, a shrine in Whitethorn Woods thought to deliver healing, husbands and other miracles. The shrine resides in the parish of Fr. Brian Flynn, curate of St. Augustine's. As a fracas erupts between shrine skeptics who want the highway and shrine believers who want the shrine preserved, Flynn, unsure of where he stands on the issue and questioning his place in an increasingly secular Ireland, goes to the shrine and prays that he might "hear the voices that have come to you and know who these people are." Binchy (Tara Road) goes on to deliver just that: a panoply of prosaic but richly drawn first-person characters, such as Neddy Nolan, a not-so-simple simpleton; 60-something Vera, who finds love on a singles trip meant for those much younger; and unassuming antiques magnate James, whose wife of 26 years is dying. Stories of greed, infidelity, mental illness, incest, the joys of being single, the struggles of modern career women, alcoholism, and the heartbreak of parenting span generations, simply and poignantly. Binchy takes it all in and orchestrates the whole masterfully. 400,000 announced first printing. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
" Binchy has an accessible, comfortable writing style and fine
storytelling ability . . . [Her] stories of an Ireland in
transition have pleased readers for years."
- Joan Hinkemeyer, "Rocky Mountain News"
" Maeve Binchy is a benevolent god of a novelist . . . "Whitethorn Woods "draws on her strengths: She can channel Irish voices with the best of them, and each of those voices has its own twisting story to tell . . . often with verve and humor."
- Margaret Quamme, "Columbus Dispatch"
" "Whitethorn Woods "is a tour-de-force for Binchy, who seamlessly inhabits all these narrators and gets their individual voices pitch-perfect . . . By the time you arrive at the last page, you' ll feel you know virtually everyone in [this] little corner of Ireland . . . Binchy is in top form."
- Melinda Bargreen, "Seattle Times"
" What could be sweeter than a trip to [an] Irish village packed with robust native characters? That' s exactly what Maeve Binchy offers in her latest novel . . . Love, longing, and rich scenes of daily life intertwine in this neatly constructed story."
- Marjorie Kehe, "Christian Science Monitor"
" Stellar Irish novelist Maeve Binchy can display unexpected depths for a crowd-pleasing author . . . One soon becomes engaged in the lives of more than two dozen characters . . . Touches of humor enliven the account, but Binchy' s chief stock-in-trade here is making relatively average lives colorful and worth our interest."
- Maude McDaniel, "Bookpage"
" In classic Binchy style, many diverse characters tell their own, sometimesoverlapping, stories . . . After [finishing], readers will want to call their mothers . . . An enjoyable peek into other people' s thoughts."
- "Library Journal"
" Binchy focuses her prodigious talent on a robust assemblage of characters embroiled in romantic and domestic crises. Inventively and intricately weaving a series of linked vignettes, [she] astounds with the versatility of the supplicants' voices . . . Binchy is at her best in this tender yet potent tale of a traditional land and people threatened and challenged by the forces of change."
- Carol Haggas, "Booklist"
" Binchy deliver[s] a panoply of richly drawn first-person characters . . . Stories of greed, infidelity, mental illness, incest, the joys of being single, the struggles of modern career women, alcoholism, and the heartbreak of parenting span generations, simply and poignantly. Binchy takes it all in and orchestrates the whole masterfully."
- "Publishers Weekly"
" Binchy inserts questions of faith into her usual romantic braid of multiple storylines . . . These are often fully realized stories that stand on their own . . . Binchy' s lilting Irish zest is undeniably addictive."
- "Kirkus Reviews"
" What readers are buying into with a Binchy book is a unique environment: a world of warmth and compassion in which a kind heart is prized above a pretty face, family life is celebrated and qualities such as decency and initiative are rewarded. This is the milieu of her latest novel . . . Binchy has always had a knack for character . . . It takes a particularly skilful writer to engage thereader' s sympathy [as she does] . . . These characters speak with their own voices directly off the page."
- Martina Devlin, "The Irish Times"
" Vintage Binchy. A touching, funny, optimistic book full of wonderful, well-observed characters."
- Wendy Holden, "Daily Mail"
" Binchy [is a] national treasure . . . In "Whitethorn Woods" her particular gift for creating a world and then drawing you in is employed with her usual skill [and] just the right combination of warmth, gossip and insight into human nature . . . Always maintaining a sense of humour, she effortlessly makes the reader feel that they are returning to an old friend."
- Mairead Byrne, "Irish Independent"
" For everyone who weaves in and out of these tightly made stories, a timeless search for love, money or perfect happiness continues to inject drama into the most humdrum lives . . . The charm is in the telling, often with the author' s tongue held firmly in cheek."
- Aisling Foster, "The Times "(London)
" What never goes out of fashion- and Binchy has it in spades- is the ability to apply a clever twist to your tale, and to apply it with such skill and timing that the reader doesn' t see it coming . . . A couple of afternoons in the gentle environs of "Whitethorn Woods" will not disappoint.
- Sile McArdle, "Sunday Independent "(Ireland)
" Binchy has a special talent for bringing her characters to life and, in the end, drawing them all together in a very satisfactory way. An engaging read."
- Sheila Forbes, "Daily News"
" Warm and cosy as aturf fire . . . "Whitethorn Woods "is another feast for all those who love Maeve Binchy' s books."
- Lucille Redmond, "Evening Herald "(Dublin)
" This is Binchy at her mischievous best: tongue-in-cheek, oozing warmth and humour and evoking a culture and people she knows and loves. Comfort food indeed."
- Sally Morris, "First "magazine
" "Whitethorn Woods" is Binchy' s best read in a decade . . . In Binchy' s hands the old progress-versus-tradition story takes on new life . . . Binchy weaves an absorbing web of stories . . . [She] taps into that mysterious process by which our sense of belonging, individual and collective, accumulates around particular places and the stories attached to them . . . Story by story, voice by voice, Binchy builds the fictional community of Rossmore so that, by the end of the novel, we know Rossmore' s inhabitants better than our own neighbours . . . It' s novelists like Binchy who keep today' s publishing industry going . . . Few contemporary novelists match Binchy' s gift for giving us the world through her characters' eyes . . . Write on, Maeve. May you continue to delight new generations of readers."
- Elizabeth Grove-White, Toronto" Globe and Mail"
"From the Hardcover edition."
Spiritual haven? Or source of superstitious nonsense? Strong opinions bubble up when St. Ann's Well, long a place of prayer, is set to be bulldozed to make way for a highway. Reading group guide. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.