By the school house at Shancarrig stands a copper beech, its bark scarred with the names and dreams of the pupils who have grown up under its branches.
Under Junior Assistant Mistress Maddy Ross's careful gaze the children play, but out of school Maddy's gaze lingers where it shouldn't. Maura Brennan, a bundle of fun from the rough end of town, plays with her pals: leap year baby Eddie Barton, the apple of his mother's eye, and Nessa Ryan, who little realises as she carves his name at the roots of the copper beech on the very last day of school that she'll get a lot more from one of her schoolmates than her first shy kiss.
The Copper Beech is the gateway to Maeve Binchy's marvellous portrait of a small Irish town whose untroubled surface conceals the passions, rivalries, friendships, ambitions and jealousies beneath.
©2003 Maeve Binchy (P)1993 Audible Ltd
This is one of my favourite books. The characters are real and develop well as the storyline evolves. It is about a group of schoolchildren and their village school but should not be confused with other school stories such as those written by Miss Read. There are serious references to life in rural Ireland and the social differences that existed all wound into a fascinating story that I did not want to end. Read in the lovely tones of Kate Binchy.
I am latecomer to Maeve Binchy's writing. I have to admit I had always avoided it thinking it would be too sentimental or cosy. I was wrong. She has a sharp eye for human relationships and her characters show themselves to be misguided, foolish, unreliable, and cruel as well as loving, rounded, and patient. Her real interest in the way we form communities, and her warm but not sentimental belief in redemption, fills her novels with human interest. I was gripped, and this was a very good reading by Kate Binchy. Highly recommended.
Maeve Binchy does not disappoint if you want well drawn characters who are believable and about whom you come to care. This novel gives the more romantic reader the desired 'happy ending' with the various characters finding true love and marriage amongst their group of lifelong and childhood friends - possibly a little saccharine for those of us who believe real life is less likely to be so obliging. Having said that, it was - as usual - marvellously read by Kate Binchy and was an enjoyable and 'feelgood' listen to brighten up the day.
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