Monday, October 20, 2008

Frankly Scarlet..... Oh, sorry....different Scarlet

I just finished (well, I'm actually a couple of pages from the end of) Maeve Binchey's Scarlet Feather.

It may be because of familial background, but I've always loved Maeve Binchey's books -- she writes about the Ireland where I grew up -- small villages where everyone knew every one's business. Real people who faced real adversity and triumph every day. Her writing style is easy to get absorbed in -- it's complex in its simplicity.

She describes her characters with such warmth and honesty -- they become your friends, your neighbors, your family -- I cried when the Jack betrayed Benny in Circle of Friends and I wanted my parents to pack us up and move us back to Ireland like Patrick O'Neil did in Firefly Summer. I'm always sad to see the end of one of her books -- because I'll miss these people I've been spending time with. She always leaves story on the table.... I always walk away wondering what happened to them after.... did the romance take off? was the marriage saved? did the rascal's mischief ever catch up to him?

Scarlet Feather wasn't really like that for me. I had a hard time getting lost in the story -- the writing was the same, but the characters...... I just didn't care about them much. Cathy was nice enough, but not all that warm. Tom was warm -- but you really didn't see that side of him right away. My heart just didn't ache for them when they suffered disappointments.... my spirit didn't soar for them when they triumphed -- they were just people passing by.

Or so I thought.

It wasn't until I was about half way through the book that I began looking forward to picking it up. And although much of the plot points were really very predictable, and I knew what was coming -- I started to hope that I was wrong..... these are good people, they deserve a break -- some good luck.

I won't give too much away, in the event one of you (anybody still out there?) decides to read it -- but, I did end up getting weepy a couple of times... and happy a few too.

Overall, I'd say that this book was not one of Maeve's best -- but it was still good. It took a lot longer to get absorbed in it than some of her others -- the characters may not have been quite as compelling -- but, I am sad to say goodbye to Cathy and Tom. There are a few questions left unanswered -- so there is more story to tell.... I think she likes it that way.
I'm off to Borders to get a new book -- anybody want to make a suggestion?

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