Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy

Benny and Eve make friends when they're children: Benny is a big and rather clumsy girl who nevertheless has a kind heart; Eve has been raised by nuns after her parents died and her grandparents disowned her. Both of them manage to get into university, and the book follows them as they make new friends while remaining faithful to old friendships.

It was such a pleasure to read this - a few of the books I've read this year have felt like heavy going, but this was a joy. The characters seem very real - in fact I realised I was feeling a bit awkward when thinking of words to describe Benny: I didn't want to hurt her feelings by calling her "fat" or "podgy".

I was thinking, as I read it, that Binchy's world doesn't have any nastiness in it; just nice people who get upset by misunderstandings. But that's not right - there are unpleasant people who do nasty things, but even those people are presented with some degree of sympathy, so you feel sorry for them rather than disliking them.

I bought this, along with Tara Road from the charity shop, and I started reading Tara Road straight after finishing this one. And already the characters and storylines are getting a bit mixed up in my head, so I think perhaps they are a little bit formulaic, but if so it's a really nice formula.

Just a pleasure to read, really.

Completed : 06-Jun-2010

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