Posted by: marthabernie | August 11, 2012

MAEVE BINCHY 1940 – 2012

Maeve Binchy passed away on July 30, 2012 at the age of 72 and not only a nation went into mourning.  Readers of contemporary fiction all over the world feel the loss of this wonderful lady.  So much has been written about her in the past two weeks that I won’t chronicle the facts here.  If you would like to read the biography she wrote herself, go to  www.maevebinchy.com and click on About Maeve.

She and her husband, childrens’ writer Gordon Snell,  lived on Sorrento Road in the little village of Dalkey, County Dublin, where she grew up.  If  you have been reading my blog, you know that I have written about Dalkey previously.  When I first went to Ireland in 1990, I stayed with friends who lived there.  I didn’t see her in Dalkey during my early visits but I did walk past her house on numerous occasions.  Then when my friends moved to Sandycove, I didn’t spend quite as much time in Dalkey, but I did happen to meet her at a launch for an Irish Arthritis Foundation event in the 90’s.  By that time she was already in daily pain and having difficulty getting around because of her own arthritis, but she turned out for these events, lending her celebrity to the cause and adding her support in raising funds for research and care of those afflicted with this crippling disease.  She had an infectious and happy personality, and her writer’s ego peeked through when I told her how much I enjoyed her books.  She responded by telling me what was going to be published in the U.S. several months later.  I went to the book shop in Dalkey and bought a copy of everything she had published at that point, my suitcase bulging on the trip home.  That summer when I happened to have several months off work, I worked my way through the entire Maeve Binchy collection; novels, short stories, articles in the Irish Times, you name it.  If it was published, I read it.

After that, I anxiously awaited each of her new releases.  They always came out in Ireland before the U.S., so a friend would buy the latest hard cover, read it, send it to her mother, and then send it on to me.  A couple of these were signed by Maeve with best wishes.

On my next trip to Ireland, I saw her driving through Dalkey one afternoon in a big Lexus.  Then I met her two more times in Finnegan’s Sorrento pub which is next door to where she lived.  She and her husband had a daily reservation for lunch at a quiet table in the corner.  I was reluctant to go up to her and disturb her lunch with friends, but each time I did approach her briefly as we were leaving.  I told her I was from Los Angeles and that I enjoyed her books; I reminded her of meeting her at the Arthritis event years earlier, but I could tell from the look on her face that she did not remember me.  She was gracious and pleasant all the same and told me about her next book being released in the U.S.  When I told her a friend had already sent it to me, she made a comment about books being heavy and requiring lots of postage!

The second time I met her in Finnegan’s was only a year or so later, and much to my surprise, she did remember me this time, commenting that I was the American who had her books shipped from Ireland.  At this point, she had announced that she was no longer going to write novels, but she made a comment that made me think that her writing days were far from over.  I think her arthritis just made it difficult for her to do all the promotional work that goes with publishing.

As it turned out, she did produce several more novels, and luckily for those of us who have followed her for decades now, there is one more due to be released in Ireland in a few months.  If you haven’t read any of her pieces published for years in The Irish Times, take a look at their website.  They published a wonderful 8-page supplement in her honor on August 1, 2012.

Now that she is gone, I wish I had managed to get a photo taken with her but I never wanted to be presumptuous or disrupt her meal.  Maybe next year when I am in Dalkey, I will post a photo of Finnegan’s Sorrento.


Responses

  1. I too have long loved her work. I live in a town outside of Chicago where nothing of any great importance every seems to happen. Her books have always made me long for Ireland and I have to say, when I approach the end of any one of her books I always pause and think how much I will miss the colorful characters she brought to life on every page. There have even been times I set the book down to savor at a later time. I have read everything she has written and am nearing the end of her last book. It is with great sadness and affection I bid her farewell.

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    • I am just back from Ireland where I bought a paperback copy of her last novel, A WEEK IN WINTER. It is superb!

      Like


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