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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Audio Book Review: Maeve Binchy Collection

This is a warm and charming collection of relationship stories with a wonderful narrator.
Maeve Binchy Value Collection: The Copper Beach, Circle of Friends, The Glass Lake
Author website
  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Abridged edition (July 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739312669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739312667
Genre: Women's Fiction ?
My Rating: 4.75

Product Description
At the heart of every Irish family, the hopes of the future are tied deeply to the dreams of the past. And at the heart of every Maeve Binchy novel, the lives and loves of vividly drawn characters are deftly woven into unforgettable, beautifully realized tales. Now, in this charming audio set, three of Maeve Binchy's classic coming-of-age tales are collected together. These wonderful audio presentations represent the very best work of one of the world's most celebrated authors. And listening to her comforting stories feels just like coming home.

The Copper Beech
Carved on the trunk of the mighty copper beech tree that embraces the schoolyard in Sharcarrig are declarations of love, hope, and identity--the youthful dreams of the children who studied there. Now grown, yet shaped by their years in the schoolhouse, they lead different lives. The Copper Beech tells the story of these eight dreamers.

Circle of Friends
Circle of Friends begins with the pair of Benny Hogan and Eve Malone from the village of Knockglen until they leave for university in Dublin and are joined by Nan Mahon and Jack Foley. Long-hidden lies emerge to test the meaning of love and the strength of ties held within the fragile gold bands of a circle of friends.

The Glass Lake
In The Glass Lake, Maeve Binchy explores the unspoken language between mothers and daughters in an extraordinary story of a mother's secret, a daughter's courage, and the hidden bond between them that neither deceit nor death can destroy.

Review: These are absolutely charming reads!

I had not read the description of the books before I started listening to this audio book. I confused at first by the different characters in THE COPPER BEECH until I realized that these were mini stories of eight men and women who grew up in Sharcarrig where they had carved their names in the school-yard copper beech tree. Each story has unique qualities: sadness, joy, love.

The second story, CIRCLE OF FRIENDS, tells the young friendship of Benny and Eve as they grow from girlhood to college friends. Benny is a heavy girl with a sunny and bright disposition. Her best friend, Eve, is more attractive and has been drilled by her parents that she must always show a grand face until she is accepted in the upper classes.  They make new friends at college, including the beautiful and rich Nan and the handsome, determined Jack.  The story follows their friendships, dreams and early romances and the twists that occur in intertwined everyday young lives.

My favorite of the three lovely stories is the third: THE GLASS LAKE. I have never read a story like this and it is extremely engaging, emotional and charming even with sadness. Young 12 year old Kit fears that her rather ethereal mother has committed suicide by drowning in the local lake, Lough Glass. Kit destroys the letter left by her mother for her father so that her mother can be given a proper burial.

Kit begins to receive letters from Lena in London who claims to have been a close friend of her mother’s.  They develop a warm correspondence with Lena giving loving support and hope to Kit. When Kit is graduating she celebrates by going to London to surprise and meet Lena. Imagine her shock and betrayal when she discovers that Lena is actually her mother, Helen!

The story deftly follows Kit’s growth, fears, friendships and ultimately her romantic relationship with a gorgeous young man who could break her heart. The story also portrays Helen’s passions, loneliness, sacrifice, betrayal, pain, regret and fear. Can Kit ever forgive her mother? Will Helen find love and peace. Can Kit find the courage to risk love?

Each of these stories move at a fine easy pace. The audio book was a wonderful way to read them. The narration is absolutely lovely with the smooth, warm Irish accent adding to the richness of these tales.  Although the stories are set in Ireland they portray the lives of friends and families of any nationality.

I may add this to my Audiobooks for future giveaway... I am just not decided yet.

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