Either way, this week's episode of what to read is being brought to you by a writer who passed away this week, Maeve Binchy.
Okay, here's a little back story on my history with Ms. Binchy. The first time I read one of her books it was because there was a little movie that had come out entitled 'Circle of Friends'. Remember that? Chris O'Donnell (yum), Minnie Driver (gorgeous), and Creepy Colin Firth (difficult to reconcile him to the buttoned-up Mr. Darcy but ...that's a story for another time)? Remember that movie? LOVED that movie.
Also, I'm going to interject here about Ireland and all things Irish. It has been on my bucket list for the better portion of my aware life (it's like when you start remembering things....like getting lost in the cornfield when I was three...I can remember looking up into the sky and seeing corn and clouds), I've wanted to go to Ireland. I've had a fascination (ie. unnatural and probably a little creepy) with all things Irish whether it be actors, singers, poets and/or writers. Their accents fascinate me. Their turns of phrase are difficult to mimic but amazing just the same. So, yeah, fascinated would be a good word.
Okay, back to Ms. Binchy and Circle of Friends. When I found out that movie was based on a book, I got myself to the local Wal-Marts and picked up a copy. It was good. I don't remember it making a significant impact on me (other than learning/being reminded that Hollywood loves to take words and twist them to suit their money making machine in order to bring butts into the seats) but I liked it enough to pick up copies of her books when I hit up my local GoodWill/Consignment stores.
I don't remember the first time I read The Lilac Bus but I do remember loving it. It's got a few stories inside of that book and the other few are fine but nothing spoke to me - or so I remember - like the The Lilac Bus did.
She - the author, Ms. Binchy - starts out telling tales of each member of this 'bus' who happen to catch it every Friday evening from Dublin to their home town of Rathdoon. Each character in the book has things going on in their mind that you would have no idea about by their outward appearances. Her look at characters, at people, are unflinching and told with a matter-of-fact air about it. These people may wrestle with their demons but .... you'd almost never know it. One character has a mother running a pub and who is dangerously close to becoming a raging alcoholic. Another has a sister in Dublin who is suffering from bulimia. Another yet comes home to find that his brother has run off with the local flavor of the week leaving behind a wife, children, and a 'chips' shop.
On and on, chapter after chapter, highlighting each character until the story unfolds and weaves together these hometown folks helping each other with their flaws, their problems, and giving each other hope against what they're struggling uphill with.
I love it.
To this day my cop of The Lilac Bus is dog-eared, wrinkled, and pages are falling out because of use. You can tell that someone definitely 'loves' this book.
And to be fair, her other books are equally wonderful to read. She believes in a big cast of characters and in her last few books, she reprised 'roles' of characters from other beloved books and in her last book 'Minding Frankie' there was a moment that made me do the ugly crying bit, saying good-bye to a character that I'd followed along with for three or four other books.
She writes those kinds of characters.
They're so wonderfully flawed, real, and human that you identify with them almost immediately. They leap off of the page and make themselves at home with a cup of tea and a biscuit in your sitting room and you don't want them to leave...ever.
So, when I heard this week via Twitter (am I never unplugged? LOL) that she, Maeve, had passed away, I was ... hurt. It's very difficult to try and explain to people who don't read, don't fall in love with characters, who don't wish them well and want to know things turned out the minute we hit that last page and find it blank only to close the back cover, run your hand over it, and smile softly because yeah, it was that good. It's hard to explain it to people that you mourn because a book is done. And knowing that I wouldn't read her words again - well, new words - is hard to digest.
So, instead of having her new words to look forward to you, I'm doing something that she might appreciate. I'm putting a sandwich board out here on the my blog and saying read this. Or pick up Tara Road. Or Circle of Friends. Or any of the other many novels she has published over the years, sit down, and give yourself over to the lives, trials, and tribulations of people who are an ocean away.
Again, if you have something you think I should be reading, let me know! I'll add it to my list of things to read and may be you'll get to see me yammering on about it in the weeks to come!
See you guys tomorrow for Fyeah Friday!!!
(also, all images, unless otherwise credited, courtesy of Google Images....loves me some google)