News broke this morning that beloved Irish author Maeve Binchy had passed away, yesterday, at the age of 72.  A Binchy-Book will always be equated in my mind with a cosy and decadent descent into blissful and effortless reading.  Her novels were often set in busy little Irish villages populated with families, friends, neighbours and shopkeepers, going about their entangled every-days with challenges and successes, and yes, a little lurve here and there too. From Light A Penny Candle to the most recent, Minding Frankie, each was a delightful voyage, as a good story should be.

Maeve Binchy embraced her Irish homeland and shared the good-natured ways of its people with her readers. Donal O’Donoghue wrote the following in the RTE of Ireland describing a visit with Maeve:

“In the picturesque Dublin village of Dalkey, there’s a pretty cottage that looks deceptively bijou. That is until you step into its book-lined interior. Like C S Lewis’ wardrobe, this is a way into another world. Maeve Binchy, best-selling author and all-round good egg, lives here. Upstairs is her work room and you get there by a glass elevator. With her arthritis worsening and a dicky heart, Maeve is not as mobile as she once was. “But I hate people talking about their ailments and illnesses”, she says. My father had a great statement. He used to say that the words ‘how are you?’ is a greeting, not a question about your health.” So at 70 years of age, MB remains resolutely young at heart, a tonic and a trouper. “I have a great friend who is a retired judge now and whenever we meet, we say to each other: ‘what will we do when we grow up?'””

Maeve Binchy wrote some fifteen novels as well as short stories and plays. I’ve enjoyed all I’ve read. A special one on my shelf is her non-fiction guide for writers called: The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club. Her warmth and wit is just as evident when she’s offering guidance as when she is storytelling. Tried and true advice but in Maeve’s version of write-what-you-know she is quoted as saying,  “You see, I’ve never been at an orgy and I wouldn’t know where legs should be and arms should be.

While it is indeed sad to think Maeve won’t be writing any new stories to entertain and comfort us, the good news is she leaves us with one more to savour, A Week in Winter, to be published in October 2012. I can already anticipate a quiet week-end this winter, with a last precious Binchy-Book to warm my heart.

Some final words from Maeve Binchy – words that resonate:

The happiest moments of my life are connected with family and friends. There is a great comfort about being with people who knew you way back when. There is a mental shorthand, an easy-going feeling that life doesn’t have to be explained or defined; we are all in more or less the same boat. To have a community around you in a changing and unstable world is invaluable and nothing can beat the feeling that there will always be people out for our good.

More Maeve.

Cozy Books

November 14, 2010

I’ve been craving a  “cozy” book lately – one of those lovely yarns filled with delightful folks who find themselves in a pickle or two over which they anguish and then happily resolve by the end. Sometimes there are charming towns filled with quaint cafes, blooming gardens, book shops and quirky old houses.  There is usually an eccentric character or two, a misunderstanding or a secret, maybe even a dramatic journey. I do enjoy challenging reads in which I develop an appreciation for something, someone, or somewhere new but as the sun and the temperatures sink, a cozy book craving inevitably strikes.

Here are some of  the  books I’ve cuddled up with and enjoyed:

     

Adriana Trigiani is a character unto herself and prolifically generates heartwarming and funny tales. I recommend starting with the Big Stone Gap series (and quickly – rumour is there is a movie in the works!)

Maeve Binchy is a classic in the genre. Light A Penny Candle was my first Binchy read and I have a clear memory of  racing through the last pages in the light of the headlights of the car following ours on a long drive home. Just that riveting. Fortunately for us, Maeve Binchy is also dedicated to her writing and provides us with new choices on a fairly regular basis.

Rosamunde Pilcher‘s The Shell Seekers is an all-time favourite. There is a sequel called September and many other stories as well that I’ve enjoyed but The Shell Seekers is the one of which I’m most fond. While Rosamunde has retired her son Robin Pilcher now writes similarly themed books.

A few new “cozies” are arriving on the book shop shelves and my wish list:

   

And so as you tuck your blanket in around you and get the fireplace going, which cozy books are you craving?

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