Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307265784, 352pp.
Publication Date: March 6, 2007
Maeve Binchy once again brings us an enchanting book full of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that have made her one of the most beloved and widely read writers at work today.
When a new highway threatens to bypass the town of Rossmore and cut through Whitethorn Woods, everyone has a passionate opinion about whether the town will benefit or suffer. But young Father Flynn is most concerned with the fate of St. Ann’s Well, which is set at the edge of the woods and slated for destruction. People have been coming to St. Ann’s for generations to share their dreams and fears, and speak their prayers. Some believe it to be a place of true spiritual power, demanding protection; others think it’s a mere magnet for superstitions, easily sacrificed. Not knowing which faction to favor, Father Flynn listens to all those caught up in the conflict, and these are the voices we hear in the stories of Whitethorn Woods—men and women deciding between the traditions of the past and the promises of the future, ordinary people brought vividly to life by Binchy’s generosity and empathy, and in the vivacity and surprise of her storytelling.
Maeve Binchy is at the very top of her form in this irresistible tale.
“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, sometimes overlapping, stories . . . After [finishing], readers will want to call their mothers . . . An enjoyable peek into other people’s thoughts.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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 the reader’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 a turf 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