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Tara Road Hardcover – March 2, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 746 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Oprah Book Club® Selection, September 1999: Against all odds, two newlyweds manage to buy the house of their dreams. In 1982, property speculation is beginning to be a big, big thing in Dublin--and their street is very much in an up-and-coming part of town. "They laughed and hugged each other. Danny Lynch from the broken-down cottage in the back of beyond and Ria Johnson from the corner house in the big, shabby estate were not only living like gentry in a big Tara Road mansion, they were actually debating what style of dining table to buy." But for its various inhabitants, the street is to become a boulevard of dreams--some broken, others created anew. Maeve Binchy has long proved herself a secure hand at multiple story lines, and over the course of 500 satisfying pages she focuses on Ria; her best friend, Rosemary Ryan, a beautiful, endlessly selfish career woman; Gertie, the battered wife of a drunkard; and several other intriguing women, each of whom has secrets not to be shared. There is even an all-knowing fortune teller who early on hints that Ria will travel and start a successful business--two things she knows are definitely not in the offing.

Yet after our supposedly happy housewife and mother of two is confronted by some inexorable home truths, a chance phone call from America will change her life, forcing her to discard her illusions about men, women, and marriage and start all over again. At the same time, the Connecticut caller, Marilyn Vine, has her own lessons to learn when she and Ria swap houses for the summer. Yet there's nothing remotely preachy about this novel--even the bad guys (and yes, they're usually guys) and beautiful mistresses get to maintain some appeal. Instead, Tara Road is a stirring look at the reality behind our consuming fantasies, and a page-turner to boot. --Siobhan Carson --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Abandoned by her husband, a Dublin woman named Ria meets American Marilyn via the phone, and they end up swapping houses?with surprise results.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; Later Printing edition (March 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385333951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385333955
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (746 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am giving TARA ROAD three stars because it is not my favorite Maeve Binchy novel - I don't think the secondary characters were developed as well as in some of her other books. Yes, the story has elements of a soap opera, but please don't compare it to anything written by Danielle Steele. I have never been able to get through one chapter of any of her books that have come my way. Okay, I did read MESSAGE FROM NAM, she must have had a ghost-writer. Excuse me, I digress. TARA ROAD is an enjoyable read. The main character, Ria, changes throughout the book, and I really liked her. She seemed very real to me, like a good friend. My only complaint about this book is at times it was a bit slow, and not 100% believable, but so what, it's a novel. The story itself is actually very inspiring, about friendship as well as self-reliance. I definitley recommend TARA ROAD to all Maeve Binchy fans, and for those who've never experienced Maeve, if you like good stories with characters who become like friends, please give her books a try. However, for first time readers of Maeve, you might want to start with ECHOES or EVENING CLASS, which are two of her best!
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Format: Hardcover
I haven't really enjoyed many of Oprah's selections, but decided to give this one a chance anyway. After reading the book, I was sorry it had to end, but at the same time I asked myself, why? It's dificult to put your finger on why the book is great. I didn't find the plot to be overly exciting, but I found that the characters were. I think this book is well worth a read just because you tend to fall in love with the characters and genuinely "care" what happens in their life. Just a nice read; nothing earth shattering.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book in three days - I actually got up early on a Saturday morning to continue reading! Sure, it is light reading, and most of it is dialogue with little variation in phrasing or language usage from character to character. (Also, she uses UK terms of speech in the dialogue of the Americans, but I only noticed that because I am an American in a foreign country and am very aware of this difference.) However, with all that said, it is still a good story. I loved the descriptions of the homes and people's varied attachments to them, as well as the exploration of the paths, morals and variety of social relationships that these modern families experienced. The characters and situations are very real and believable - she has captured a good slice of life of women in the 90's. I am left with the inspiration to try an international house swap if the occasion should ever present itself...!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Maeve Binchy weaves another strong Irish tale of love, life, despair and renewal. Tara Road is a contemporary novel set on the streets of Dublin. The story pivots around the life and love of Danny and Ria, from their beginnings through their troubled times. They start their life with the purchase of a beautiful older home that Danny foresees as a house of possibilities and immense potential, just like he views his own life, starting from nowhere and reaching the highest peaks. Maeve Binchy creates people that strike a chord in our hearts. Rosemary, so beautiful and committed to work, Gertie, married to an abusive alcoholic, Marilyn coping with a sad past, Colm and his sister, hiding a secret while running a restaurant, Hillary, thrifty in life, in love and in her dreams, and Ria's mom, a woman of strong opinions freely shared. Danny and Ria's children are almost too real, mothers everywhere will recognize a touch of their own children in them. All the "sidestories" bring a fullness to the story and open your eyes to a world of love, despair, hope and inner strength and the value of true friendship.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
How disappointing it is to read a book with such weak female characters portrayed as heroines. I imagine the theme of this book is supposed to be handling adversity, learning to stand on your own feet and overcome a terrible situation. However, Ria is the most appalling main character I've ever been expected to like. She is oblivious to everything going on around her and has her feelings hurt far too often--by her teenage daughter, her jealous sister, or friends whose compliments Ria is skillfully able to twist into slights. On the one evening of her adult life when she can't find anyone for whom to cook an elaborate dinner, Ria very nearly has a nervous breakdown. She is an insecure child playing at adulthood.
Most horrifying, of course, is the way Ria reacts toward her husband. First she decides that it will solve all of the problems in their marriage if she has another baby. Then, when he announces he is leaving her for his pregnant girlfriend, she falls apart. Several times. Instead of clinging onto any dignity at all, Ria repeatedly begs Danny to come back to her and tells him she will always be there for him. Is there anything more humiliating than a woman who throw herself at a man who has made it clear he doesn't want her?
This character made me cringe, and the other women in the story were a list of female cliches--interfering mother, obnoxious teenager, domestic victim, man-stealing witch, penny-pinching shrew, etc. In the end, it was all just very tiresome. I'm not clear on where the "heartwarming" part of the story was, but I certainly missed it.
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