Sunday, March 6, 2011

About Life and Fragile Beginnings

Minding Frankie, Maeve Binchy (Read by Sile Bermingham)
I got hooked on Maeve Binchy when I listened to The Evening Class and was completely enchanted by the richness of her characters, the intricacy and surprises of her story, and the deliciously satisfying conclusions.

So, I wanted to read more and I was delighted when some of the characters from The Evening Class showed up in Quentins and then in Whitethorn Woods. 

I have come to expect that little overlap from book to book.  In Binchy's books, as in life, characters that are at center stage in one story only make an appearance in the next.  Reading these books is rather like briefly encountering old friends, taking a moment to catch up, and then moving on with your current concerns.

And so it is with Minding Frankie, Binchy's newest book.  Frankie, the heart and center of the story, is a newborn who has dropped into an extremely fragile existence.  Frankie's mother was a young woman with cancer who knows that her baby's birth will bring about her own death. 

Her father is a directionless young alcoholic whose life is already tottering out of control when he hears that a one night stand he has completely forgotten has left him with a daughter. 

With the help of a visiting American cousin, Noel joins AA, enrolls in college, and gets himself an apartment.  By the time Frankie arrives, he has a support group ready to assist.

Still, it takes a village and the Dublin community provides that.  The story is about the surprising people who show up, who help or hinder, and who reveal themselves and grow or disappear.  This is the core of what makes Binchy's books so wonderful. 

That being said, the feeling I got from this book is that it is laying the groundwork for some interesting new characters, some new stories and intrigues - basically for some books yet to come.  This is not one of her stronger works, but it is thoroughly enjoyable and I am convinced it is the foundation for the next great story.

I am glad I read it and I recommend it without reservation.

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