Reviewed by: Jennifer Chretien, Reference Librarian
Rating: 4 stars
Since I was a child, I have been a notorious chain reader. I can read so quickly that it is nothing for me to gobble down a book in a day and then immediately reaching out to start the next before the current one has been put down. When I have read too much, I am left with an unsettled and slightly queasy feeling- as if I have come crash landing back into reality. I also feel like this after eating too many Swedish fish but that's a whole separate story.
Since I have a toddler at home, I rarely get enough time to read, let alone chain read. I had the opportunity to read three books over the course of a weekend recently. Intense and dark books with plots so wonderful that I couldn't put them down. When I finished the last book, that familiar "book hangover" feeling came on intensely and without warning. I knew I needed something light and soothing to ease me back into reading. Fortunately I had just the book, Maeve Binchy's A Few of the Girls.
After Maeve's death, her husband gathered some short stories that had previously been unpublished, added some that had been published long ago, and turned them into a wonderful collection of short stories about women.. Stories that are light, witty, and just a delight. The book is divided in themed sections and the stories are of varying intensity and length. Some stories are predictable and flat; others are much more vibrant. All of them are gentle little snapshots of compelling ordinary characters in Ireland. The perfect book to help you relax and escape a little without requiring commitment or a lot of brain power.
Maeve Binchy is a tonic for anyone that wants to be transported somewhere but not too deeply. Her books are simple, soothing, and cross the generational divide. I would (and have) given them to my ninety year old grandmother to read. Her tales evoke feelings of love and hope while also being topical. This collection of stories is no different. It was like drinking a soothing cup of tea and just the thing I needed to gently ease me back.