Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Maeve Binchy - The Copper Beech

10. The Copper Beech by Maeve Binchy (1992)
Length: 391 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 27 January 2012
Finished: 31 January 2012
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 24 January 2012
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

In the close-knit Irish community of Shancarrig, there stands an old copper beech overlooking the schoolhouse. For years, the imposing tree has been both a silent spectator and a staunch supporter of the generations of students who have gone to school in Shancarrig. Eight children once carved their names - and the names of those who they loved - into the bark of the tree, as part of an annual tradition that takes place on the final day of school. And so, the old copper beech has kept the secrets of these former pupils; bearing the etchings of their myriad ambitions and hopeful dreams for the future within its trunk.

These eight children have since become adults and are living their own lives. Yet the schoolhouse in Shancarrig still holds a special place in all of their hearts; as it is the schoolhouse that has shaped them and made them who they are. For each person, their hometown holds such special memories - some memories that are just too personal or private to ever be shared. However, the mighty copper beech has witnessed various declarations of love, hope, and identity - all the youthful dreams of the children who once played beneath its sheltering branches.

Although they live such vastly different lives, these eight dreamers can certainly agree on one thing about the bucolic and peaceful town of Shancarrig: life is dull; some might even say deadly dull. From Ryan's Hotel to Barna Woods, where the gypsies set up their campsites each year, from Nellie Dunn's bustling little sweet shop to Father Gunn's quiet parish church; the pace of life in tiny Shancarrig is placidly uneventful. And the community seems to prefer it that way.

However, for some more passionate souls - such as Nessa Ryan - there must be more to life in Shancarrig than running the family hotel. Yet if Nessa could just peel back the various layers of serenity - if she could see beyond the calm exterior of life in Shancarrig - she would see so much unexpected drama: the schoolhouse's headmistress, Maddy Ross has a secret love; Eddie Barton has developed a surprising friendship with someone through the mail; and Maura Brennan has discovered that she has a curious kinship with a glamorous couple - Mike and Gloria Darcy - recent newcomers to Shancarrig.

In this picturesque little town, where the river runs around the great rock for which the town is named, human life flows along in all its variety. Lives intertwine in much the same way as names crisscross on the trunk of that sturdy copper beech. Yet, from the cottages where Foxy Dunne and his family live in poverty; to the grand house where Leonora 'Leo' Murphy lives; and for the Kellys', who live near the school; as well as the town physician, Dr. Jims Blake, who lives on The Terrace - nothing is as it seems. For now, the secrets that have long been hidden deep in Shancarrig's shadows are being brought back into the light.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. As I know I have said before, I absolutely love Maeve Binchy as an author. In my opinion, she writes such poignant stories and develops such personable characters that I found myself truly connecting with as I read further along in the book.

I also appreciate that her plots are never just the 'chocolate box' variety - the 'feel good, happily ever after' type plots and stories. Ms. Binchy's stories aren't always wrapped up in a nice, neat little bow. I love her writing style precisely because I find it to be more realistic and true to life. I would definitely give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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