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Scarlet Feather Hardcover – March 5, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Whatever made us think that a catering business had anything to do with producing food?" asks the exasperated heroine of Maeve Binchy's Scarlet Feather. Cathy Scarlet and her partner Tom Feather had wanted to open their own catering firm ever since they attended college together. When the perfect location finally becomes available at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, they jump straight into renovations, ignoring the owner's mysterious eagerness to sell. But as they soon learn, chasing a dream demands far more than just cream puffs and canapés. In the months that follow, Tom and Cathy weather the ups and downs of founding a small business, soothe many a client's fragile ego, plan and pull off a fairy-tale wedding, minister to two of the most appealingly waifish children this side of Dickens, and generally work themselves to the bone--all the while producing some of the most exquisite food Dublin has ever seen.

Binchy is a master spinner of tales, the kind of storyteller who captures the rich tapestry of relationships at work in even the most ordinary of lives. Tom and Cathy come surrounded by a cast of characters as skillfully drawn as themselves: Neil, Cathy's activist-lawyer-husband, who's so busy worrying about the world's problems that he sometimes forgets to worry about his own; beautiful Marcella, Tom's girlfriend, who wants to be a top model more than anything else; and most endearingly of all, Maud and Simon, Neil's neglected 8-year-old cousins, who prove equally talented at wreaking havoc and asking awkward questions. Stir in a full complement of clients, family, friends, and enemies, and you have the makings of a bestseller that's very busy and very Binchy. Tom and Cathy's work, after all, is not so different from that of the novelist herself. Like writers, they stage-manage some of the most important events in people's lives, from weddings and funerals to romances and reunions. Before the year is out, Tom, Cathy, Neil, and Marcella will find themselves changed forever--and Binchy fans will have fallen in love with yet another of her fully realized worlds. --Chloe Byrne

From Publishers Weekly

Bestselling author Binchy (Tara Road, etc.) again explores the depths of family relationships in an 11th warm, involving drama. Set in contemporary Ireland over a period of one year, the smartly paced tale focuses on Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather, cooking school chums who achieve their dream of opening a posh catering business, Scarlet Feather, in Dublin. Professionally, they're off to a good start; personally, their lives are falling apart. Cathy, whose out-of-work father plays the races while her mother toils as a housemaid, faces the consequences of having married Neil Mitchell, prized son of an upper-class family who employed Cathy's mother for years. Neil, a lawyer who champions worthy causes, is unconcerned about the tension between his wife and his snooty mother, and Cathy and Neil find themselves leading busy, separate lives. Tom has a live-in girlfriend whom he would love to marry, but Marcella, a manicurist in a classy store, yearns to succeed as a model before making any commitments. A charming cast of secondary characters includes Neil's cousins, Simon and Maud, two abandoned, nine-year-old twins who, in a surprising turn of events, come to live with Cathy's parents. The children's deadpan, exceedingly serious outlook on life is both heartbreaking and hilarious. One of Binchy's strengths is her subtle depiction of gradual changes in Irish society. By making her principal characters entrepreneurs, she reflects the ways Ireland's growing economic prosperity has altered social mores. Whether her readers are aware of such details, they help this wonderfully engaging book ring true. (Mar. 5).Forecast: Binchy's gift for creating a wide range of characters whose foibles and challenges make them lovable and real, coupled with her theme that genuine love can transform lives, add up to another crowd-pleaser. With major ad/promo, plus an author tour, this one is a lock for the charts.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 538 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525945938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525945932
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (299 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Maeve Binchy is the author of numerous best-selling books, including Nights of Rain and Stars, Quentins, Scarlet Feather, Circle of Friends, and Tara Road, which was an Oprah's Book Club selection. She has written for Gourmet; O, The Oprah Magazine; Modern Maturity; and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. She and her husband, Gordon Snell, live in Dalkey, Ireland, and London.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Mary G. Longorio VINE VOICE on November 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Scarlet Feather is Maeve Binchey at her best. Following the lives of several residents in modern day Dublin and their various involvement with the Scarlet Feather catering business. Friends from school days, Tom and Cathy have invested their all in the catering business.....but friends, family, lovers, and the odd abandoned child or two, have a way of getting involved. This is Maeve Binchey at her best, weaving the everyday lives of various people of all classes and interest, into a seamless story. The language and the dialog ring true and carry the story along. The characters are allowed to be themselves,their good and bad characteristics and all their human frailties included. The story is character driven, and moves along at a good clip. Even though it is over 500 pages, it is a fast read, one you don't want to put down. Sadly, Ms. Binchey has announced this is her last novel. I, for one will miss her, and have added this book to my collection to read and reread. It was worth figuring out the monetary conversion to order this from amazon,uk.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on April 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As an avid Binchy fan, I could not let her newest addition go unread. While not as engaging or cozy as her others, I enjoyed every last page of Scarlet Feather, the novel which marks the beginning of Maeve Binchy's retirement.
Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather, friends and former cooking school classmates, have embarked upon their dream -- owning and operating their very own catering business, aptly named Scarlet Feather. For an entire year, from one New Year's Eve to the next, readers get a glimpse into the lives of Cathy and Tom and all the happenings surrounding Scarlet Feather. And as usual, par to Maeve Binchy's excellent character derivation, we get to meet several fascinating individuals along the way. Ingredients include Muttie Scarlet, Cathy's father and compulsive gambler; Neil Mitchell, Cathy's husband and an exhaustive workaholic; Hannah Mitchell, Neil's mother and rich snob (think Dharma and Greg's Kitty Montgomery); and Simon and Maud, nine-year-old twins with very inquisitive minds. We also get an amble serving of Maeve's forte -- a story that delves into various characters' lives and how they relate to each other. Mix everything up in a great big bowl and you have one big heapin' helpin' of Irish goodness.
All Maeve Binchy veterans will need to read this book, if only to finish up the collection. If you are new to the wonderful world of Maeve, I suggest reading an older book first (Circle of Friends, The Glass Lake) because the content is much more indulging. Individually, Scarlet Feather is an easy read with lots of breaks in the story to ease the flow. Although I felt a little unattached in parts, I couldn't help but love this yummy smorgasbord.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Trudy Keenan on October 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Scarlet Feather centres around Cathy and Tom - two friends who meet at catering college and their endeavours to set up their own catering business. As with other Maeve Binchy's novels, the story of the main characters is supported by a host of supporting friends, lovers, and family (some of which are familiar from Tara Road), with little subplot storylines based around the various characters. These include an indifferent husband, beautiful girlfriend with dreams of being a model, two homeless children (the children's statements are a delight) and the well off and not so well off family, all intertwined. Cathy's father, Muttie, is a great character, relying solely on his winnings from the horses as a means of income. And of course there is the imperious mother in law... but I won't spoil the characters by relaying any further information.
As the early reviewer has said the story is predictable but it is an entertaining read and Ms Binchy once again draws you into a web of everyday people, their ups and downs, their fortunes and misfortunes, in her entertaining and straightforward style. Although not her greatest novel, if you are a fan of Maeve Binchy I am sure you will enjoy the book.
As a footnote I was saddened to read that this will be Ms Binchy's last novel (from her interview on Amazon.co.uk) and that she will only be writing short stories from now on, so it fortunate that all her stories are a joy to read over and over.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lee on October 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy is a fictional novel about several interesting characters. It is a superb combination of real life struggles and humor. Two long-time friends, Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather, share the same dream to have their own catering business. They hope to provide their hometown, Dublin, Ireland, with delicious gourmet food. One New Year's Eve night Tom happens to stumble on the perfect place for their establishment. They excitedly purchase it and start their business. Tom and Cathy are surrounded by loveable family and friends that enhance the story line. In the following months, Tom and Cathy face financial difficulties with their company and personal problems involving family and their significant others.
The problems and triumphs that the characters experience make them seem more realistic. The author writes with omniscience, which gives the reader insight into the characters' minds. The setting in the quiet town of Dublin seems restful but is, in fact, the opposite. The characters' lives are hectic and complex. The overall theme of the book is about surviving difficulties and coming out of them a better person.
In general the book was charming and hard to put down. The many characters made it hard to be bored by a certain person. The book may have been a little too detailed causing it to be long and at times slow. A couple of characters such as Amanda Mitchell and Shona Burke were not developed enough. It was frustrating when some questions, such as, the mystery of their premises were never answered. The novel could have been improved but was generally enjoyable
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