Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quentins, by Maeve Binchy

I avoided Maeve Binchy's work for years because I had the impression that it is heart-warming fiction with happy endings and simple stories. And so it is, judging by this book. But I have to admit I liked it more than I expected.

Binchy seems related, to an extent, to her Scottish cousin (not literal cousin) Alexander McCall Smith. Both celebrate the community developed by persons together in a town, together in a pub or restaurant, or just together in a neighborhood. Relationships develop among people who meet up in various ways, and always who live in the same city. In the case of McCall Smith, the city is Edinburgh (except for the African stories, of course). For Binchy, it is Dublin. At least in this book.

The individual stories of many persons are told in relation to a restaurant called Quentins, including the story of Quentin himself. Careers are set in motion, people get married, others meet or have life-changing experiences. A common thread is the story of Ella, an intelligent but naive young woman who falls for a married financier who later disappears, apparently to Spain, apparently to escape prosecution. Her own story lies on the periphery of the restaurant, which she and her lover visited often. The other stories get told as possible parts of a film, a documentary, that Ella has agreed to assist in making, about how the restaurant represents the positive changes in Dublin over several years.

It was obvious from the start that everything would work out in the end, with life lessons learned, and some people a bit wiser while others are justly made to pay for their crimes. The stories are simply told and generally fun to read, but at times I tired of them. So many characters, so many little incidents, not all of them all that interesting. Good light reading for that airplane trip or time spent in the hospital.

No comments: