Friday, March 18, 2011

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy

23. Minding Frankie
by Maeve Binchy
fiction, 2010
seventh book for the Ireland Reading Challenge
Kindle book - 11
finished, 3/17/11

Well, here I am. I've finished the latest Maeve Binchy book, and I'm sad I don't have another one to go on to. I am especially sad because it felt like Minding Frankie might be the last visit with these Dubliners. The reader is now all caught up with their stories. People have married, had children, begun careers, moved away, and died. I stayed up two nights reading this book - one till 5 am and the other till 3:30. I just couldn't put it down until tiredness overcame me. I adore this cast of characters, and it is such a joy to see so many of them doing well.

This is the story of a baby girl, Frances Stella, nicknamed Frankie, and all the people in her life. Out of the blue, a fellow named Noel Lynch is told by a dying young woman, Stella Dixon that she is carrying his child, the 'result' of a very short relationship. Stella wants him to raise the child who will be born via Caesarean section. She will not live through this operation, and will never see her little girl. The raising of his daughter is the making of Noel. He goes to Alcoholics Anonymous, starts night school classes, and moves out of his childhood home. The famous saying, 'it takes a village to raise a child' was never better illustrated than in this marvelous book. Relatives and friends, old and new, share in the taking care of, the 'minding' of Frankie. Many of these people we know from the other books: Fiona, Declan, Muttie and Lizzie, the twins Maude and Simon, Clara. And as always in a Maeve Binchy book, we meet some new endearing folks like Emily and 'Hat.' All except one. The social worker, Moira is just awful, and I felt that she featured way too much in the story. She had a tough childhood (though not as awful as some) and she's become a grouchy, controlling, insensitive person who is trying to make perfect families unlike the one she has. To balance her, there is Lisa, whose parents are much like Moira's but she isn't nearly as difficult a person. But she is one of those Binchy characters who drives me wild - the woman who just can't let go of a man who isn't Mr. Right. These two situations aside, it was a perfect, perfect story.

This has been such a fantastic few months of rereading, and reading this wonderful author with the biggest heart I've ever come across in literature. All my book reports may be found in the 'book lists' or 'book reports' tabs under the blog header picture.

And though I technically finished the Ireland Reading Challenge with the book Bog Child, I hope to continue on with the many Irish books I have on the shelf.


  1. Your book reviews are wonderful!

    Have you read anything by Cecilia Ahern? She's a contemporary Irish writer. She wrote PS I Love You (which was turned into a film - horrible of course).

    Anyway, happy weekend!! :)

  2. How ever can you keep your eyes open to write this lovely review? I've done this. Read late into the night, and I pay for it dearly for days.

    I really want to thank you for all your Maeve Binchy reviews. You reminded me how much I love her books and wonder why I let them sit so long.

  3. You know, I've never read Maeve Binchy. A yawning gap in my literary experience. This has spurred me on to remedy the situation. Thanks!

  4. Nan
    I read this book this week too!
    And I am motivated now to go back and reread all my Maeve Binchy books which I've never done, but thanks to you I think I will.
    I love her writing so much.
    Yes I wonder which if any of these characters she will write about in her next book!
    What order did you read her books in.... the order in which they were written?
    Thanks for your motivation.

  5. Maeve Binchy is one of my favourites :) I am in the middle of Mrs. Malory and the only good lawyer, and am thoroughly enjoying it. Thanks for the recommendation, Nan. I am not online very much lately, but am visiting and catching up with you as I can...
    have a wonderful weekend,

  6. You are just blowing this challenge out of the water! I am listening to Heart and Soul right now, and even though I only liked Whitethorn Woods, I'm enjoying hearing more about the characters, especially Father Bryan.

  7. Maeuve Binchy is one author I do need to try.

    enjoy your weekend


  8. I've been hearing about Binchy's books forever and have never read one. Sounds like I should begin at the beginning to get to know the characters.

  9. Nan, I've never read any Maeve Binchy, but I may, one of these days. She's one of the author names on my TBR list. I love your enthusiasm and your reviews of her work.

    This latest reminds me a bit of a book I read a while back. A book I think you might like.

    NOT ALL TARTS ARE APPLE by Pip Granger.

    The story is about a young child raised by a 'village'. In this case, characters living in the SOHO section of London. Just a wonderful and charming book with a few dark undertones. A great read.

  10. Oh, thank you, Kittie Flyn!! How nice of you to say so. I haven't read CA but my daughter has.

    Life on the cut off, I can do it because I'm not on any schedule anymore. If I want to sleep till 8 or 9, I can! I'm so very pleased you've liked the reviews. I'm the same way - if my friend hadn't loaned me Heart and Soul, I never would have gone back (and forward) on this little Maeve marathon. How I've loved it.

    Pamela, I will be interested to hear from you if you read her, and what you think.

    Oh, Mim, how very good to hear from you. As I wrote above, it was my friend Judi who got me going on reading and rereading, so I guess I'm just passing on the favor. :<) Yes, I did read them in publication order, - the newer ones starting with Evening Class. Actually I reread Scarlet Feather first because I love it so, but then I read EC, and continued on. The characters are introduced in the early ones and continue on. Maeve must love these people too, to keep writing about them.

    Niki, isn't Mrs M a wonderful character! I always feel so happy in her company. I'm happy you are liking her too.

    Carrie, he is such a good character, isn't he. He really thinks about things - how to live his life and be a good person. I like him.

    Dizzy, I'll be interested to hear what you think about her.

    Sherri, it is wonderful.

    Barbara, there's a kind of break between her books set in older times, and the new ones. Evening Class is the beginning of the newer books - we meet characters who continue on into the next books. I'm actually thinking of going back to Maeve's very first books -which I haven't read for ages.

    Yvette, thank you for your nice words. I've so enjoyed them all. And thank you for the Granger recommendation. I shall look it up.

  11. I want to thank you, too, for all your lovely Binchy reviews. I can't wait to try my first!


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