RIP Maeve Binchy
May 28, 1940 – July 30, 2012
Well I was going to get back to more info that is useful for writers, but I thought this deserved a mention. It is the least we can do to spend a few minutes in contemplation of an author’s life when they move on to the next plane.
On Monday, Maeve Binchy did just that after a brief illness in a Dublin hospital. She was in the hospital for a serious heart condition in 2002, but her cause of death wasn’t disclosed.
This was a romance author so maybe not all of you know her. Romance isn’t a genre I gravitate to either, but I do have one book by this author, Nights of Rain and Stars, published in 2004. I always do a short review in the back of my books after reading them, I’ve noted, “This is different writing, but an enjoyable story with a happy ending.”
Upon hearing the news of her death, I decided to do a bit of research into her life. It is always a sad thing to hear about someone with so much talent leaving us. I was surprised to learn how successful she was.
I would like to note that Maeve Binchy was a former teacher and journalist for the Irish Times, later moving to London to be their correspondent, selling over 40,000 books in her lifetime. This was way beyond her expectations when she published her first book at the age of 42. While writing her books, she continued to write for the Irish Times until 2000.
While in London, she met her future husband, a broadcaster named Gordon Snell, who is also a children’s author. Soon after they married in 1977, they moved to the village where she grew up. They had no children.
She was born in Dalkey, a small village outside Dublin, the eldest of four children. Many of her books are set in an Irish village and depict human relationships and their resulting crisis. Plots and subplots meander through her work that invariably ends with acceptance and growth.
Two of her novels and a short story went on to become films. Circle of Friends, (1990), based on her college days and a coming of age story is set at the University of Dublin, stars Minnie Driver. Tara Road, (1999), stars Andie MacDowell and Olivia Williams and is about two women, one American and one Irish, who swap houses for the summer in hopes of dealing with recent tragedies. How about You, (2008), a short story about a bunch of sour souled retirees living in a house in Dublin when a vivacious young woman shows up and changes their entire outlook on life. It stars Vanessa Redgrave. Besides this, two of her books were made into TV movies, Echoes, a 1988 miniseries, about small town Irish life and The Lilac Bus, in 1900, about travelers on a bus to Dublin.
Now I don’t know about you, but some of these sound interesting. It may be worth looking up the books when I have more reading time.
Her eighteenth novel, A Week in Winter, is scheduled to be published later this year.
She considered herself a writer of books that would appeal to people on vacation and thought she was lucky to live in the time of mass-market paperbacks.
She lived her life with the positivity depicted in her books.
Here is a brief quote she gave in an interview to Australia’s Illawarra Mercury newspaper in 2000. “I don’t think you’re happier if you’re thin, or beautiful, or rich, or married. You have to make your own happiness. My heroines do not become beautiful, elegant swans; they become confident ducks and get on with life.”