Tara Road, by Maeve Binchy

Ria marries Danny, who's an estate agent on the up, and they manage to buy a wonderful house in Tara Road. Ria's family and friends are often in and out of the house, and their stories interweave with Ria's. Out of the blue, Marilyn, an American woman, contacts Ria to ask about a holiday home-exchange. It turns out that both Marilyn and Ria have reasons for needing to get away from their own homes.

I read this directly after Circle of Friends and having finished it, I'm already part-way into Scarlet Feather. Again, the structure and feel is familiar, and perhaps the characters seem a bit stereotyped, but this was another great read.

While Circle of Friends was about young (well, university-age) people, the central characters in this book are more middle-aged, and so the issues they face are different (keeping a marriage going, career-crises, looking after children and elderly parents, etc.). Again though, nearly all the characters (even the ones who don't behave all that well) are to some extent sympathetically treated.

This book made me laugh out loud a few times. One section was particularly good, when a man has decided to leave his wife for a younger woman, and is trying to justify his actions to her. Some quotes from the exchange:

"It's nobody's fault, it happens all the time to people."
"It hasn't happened to me," she said simply.
"Yes it has but you won't face it. You just want to go on acting."
"I was never acting, not for one minute."
"You and I fell out of love."
"I didn't."
"You did, you just won't admit it."
"That's not true And I won't say I did to make you feel better."
"We can't have everything we want," he began.
"You're having a pretty good stab at it though."
"Is this how you're going to play it?" he said eventually. "Daddy, wicked monster Daddy, is going away and abandoning you, and good saintly poor Mummy is staying..."
"Well, that's more or less the way it is".

Marilyn doesn't appear until half-way through the book, and initially I was a bit irritated at this: I've just got half-way through a book and got to know and be interested in the characters, and I didn't feel I needed someone else to keep track of. And I was worried also that we'd not hear anything more about Ria while she was in the US. But these concerns were unfounded, as Marilyn's story is a really good one and complements the other plotlines. In fact this was the most moving part of the book.

Another quality read then.

Completed : 19-Jun-2010

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