Friday, February 05, 2010

11. Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

It's been many years since I've read a Binchy book.  There were probably several but I can only remember Circle of Friends and The Scarlett Letter.  Even with that length of time, it seems like Tara Road follows a similar pattern:  a sympathetic female character who falls in love with a good-looking, well meaning, but weak cad.  But maybe I'm wrong and the other two books are more different that I remember.  I do remember liking them or why would I have bought this book?  We are introduced to Ria as a young girl who looks up to her older sister and is basically just a good person.  While working at a real estate agency, she meets Danny Lynch.  They fall in love, marry, and buy a fantastic fixer-upper on Tara Road.  Through the years, the house is improved and Ria creates a home where family and friends gather to enjoy her hospitality and good food.  With a daughter and a son, a beautiful home, and a charming, good-looking husband; Ria believes life couldn't get any better except for maybe another child.  When she broaches the subject to Danny, all hell breaks loose as he confesses he has got another woman pregnant and is leaving Ria.  This story takes up half the book.  The rest deals with how Ria exchanges homes for two months with Marilyn from Stonyfield, Connecticut in a bold move that astounds her close friends and family.  None of what happens in the book is a real surprise to the reader and the ending, while certainly not wrapping everything up, implies that almost everyone is going to have a happy ending.  It is a bit unbelievable that Ria's bratty 14-year-old daughter becomes so loving to her mother in two months' time.  There are a few details like that that put me off a bit.  However, I do like the way Binchy draws her characters.  Even Danny, bounder that he is, has redeeming qualities. Ria is a bit too innocent and naive while her daughter is sharp as a tack.  I really like Ria's mother, Nora, in the latter part of the book.  She's a hoot.  Another great character is Marilyn who just can't understand how the Irish are so intrusive in each others' lives.  Her efforts to distance herself are pretty entertaining.  And there are a few characters that you really love to hate.  While I don't consider this book to be great literature, it was an entertaining read and kept my attention most of the time.  I think it could have been shorter, maybe a few less divergent storylines; but overall pretty good.
Rating:  3.5


  1. I read this book last year and had a unique experience with it. While reading it I felt bogged down. I kept waiting for something to happen. Something consuming and dramatic and large. And it didn't. It was a quiet novel and when I picked it up that's not what I wanted. I felt misled - I thought the storyline would focus more on the house swap than Ria's life.

    So, I finished it, disappointed. Swearing it would be my worse find of 2009. But then, funny thing happened. I couldn't forget the characters. I mean, now, a year later, some of them are a blur for sure. But they felt real to me last year. Which is definitely a feat. So,I'd agree on your rating. 3.5 definitely.

  2. I like Binchy's books, but haven't read one for a few years...I think Night School or Night Class was my last one...the title escapes me.

  3. An enjoyable read Tara Road by Maeve Binchy. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.