Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy

This is the last book from Ms. Binchy.  It's a series of short stories about folks living on a street in Dublin that she wrote in between things and stuck in a desk drawer.  It features some of the characters she's introduced you to in other novels living near each other and living regular domestic lives.  It reminded me a bit of her book "The Lilac Bus", which I loved.  Each chapter was devoted to a bus rider.  Everyone had opinions about everyone else but the rider's stories had nothing to do with assumptions.  That's how life is.

Alfred A Knopf sent me an ARC of the book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 6th, so make a note to grab a copy then.  Ms. Binchy's death has ended her writing, so be sure to get the book and a cup of tea and see what happens behind closed doors on Chestnut Street.

Each chapter is about another household.  Many of the characters know the others on the street and they are part of their stories.  I imagine this is a lot like any street.  You have happy people, sad people, distraught people, and life and death on a personal level here.

Ms. Binchy writes about real people.  They're just down-to-earth, homey people who are trying to survive.  Some are trying to climb up the ladder and leave Chestnut Street, some are happy right there, and others are just transients here temporarily.  They have normal human problems and I found a couple of stories where I questioned the author's endings.  Having the straying husband "die" did end that problem, but he wasn't ill.  He was also fairly young.  Then I wondered if his sweet wife knew and might have helped him along.  There's no real answer in that story.  She sometimes leaves things open in a story and that's part of her writing charm.

Here's your chance to walk down Chestnut Street in Dublin and see what common everyday life is like there.  Why not take a tour with Ms. Binchy?

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