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The Return Journey Hardcover – March 9, 1998

156 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Return Journey is a collection of 14 short stories of life, love, and learning that enables the most harried reader to enjoy a well-told tale in its entirety before checking on the kids or folding the clothes. In the tradition of Binchy's classic tales Circle of Friends and Tara Road, this consummate summer beach book introduces readers not to models of literary and romantic indefectibility, but to folks just like us, who have bad hair days, runs in their hose, and freckles both physical and metaphorical. The title story paints a portrait of the embattled relationship between a mother who left her home in Dunglass, Ireland, and her daughter, who has traveled to Ireland to find her history and finds love, as well. Through weekly correspondence, mother and daughter repair the damage to their relationship, laying to rest ghosts of an earlier mother-daughter relationship gone irrevocably wrong. And Binchy's "Victor and St. Valentine" renews faith that truly romantic men do exist and are often overlooked, their motives suspect in an increasingly self-reliant world. No one can accuse Binchy of overtelling a tale; she has perfected the art of leading her readers to the verge and then allowing them to loose their imaginations as they see fit. A wonderful and thoroughly engaging read. --Alison Trinkle --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Not without reason is Binchy (Evening Class; Circle of Friends) most popular for her novels, as this unimpressive collection of short stories linked by the theme of travel-and-learn indicates. Although the time is now and the place usually Dublin, the writing is dated, dependent on such romantic-comedy movie devices as mistaken identity, switched suitcases, confidante becoming lover, the stranger who upsets all the old balances, the surprise presence of Mum at the restaurant of the out-of-the-way hotel intended for a tryst. The most promising of the batch is the title story, a series of letters between a mother who left Ireland and her daughter, the young woman who has gone there to see the village her mother grew up in. The characters here have depth and secrets not immediately apparent. The conflicts between mother and daughter mirror the conflicts the mother has about her homeland. Unfortunately, the remaining 13 stories touch on formulaic generational and gender misunderstandings. The characters are established early, the predictable plot mechanisms uncoil like the proverbial spring and the conclusions are socked home, often in a chirpy manner.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (March 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385315066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385315067
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,703 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I usually don't like short stories as much as novels, but this book was a wonderful surprise. I loved The Return Journey and highly recommend it! Often short stories seem unsatisfying to me; if I like them, I am frustrated by their stopping too soon. That didn't happen with this book. I found these glimpses into the lives of the various characters to be intriguing and thought-provoking--and just the right length. Somehow Maeve Binchy has provided just enough for the stories to be absolutely satisfying and complete--although you may find yourself lost in your own thoughts afterwards! Each story deals with a journey. If you've ever wondered what human tale lies behind the sad or excited face of a stranger met on the road, or been curious about an unlikely pair of travel companions--you may enjoy this set of stories. I think the book would be just perfect to tuck in a suitcase for a vacation. The stories would also do well on your nighttable to read before bedtime--and then dream of your own trip! If you're the type of person who likes to sit with a cup of tea and daydream next to a sea with "twenty different shades of green and blue"--and wonders about that person over there who is sitting on a rock doing the same: try this book!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By atmj TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I first started reading this book, I never realized it was one of short stories. As usual Maeve Binchy fleshes out the characters and you can understand very quickly what is going on.
What I like about each of these stories, is that it shows a point of view, of a character at a pin point of time. That pin point of time, is a crossroads. They can opt to continue on, in their well worn rut or they can make decisions that change their lives. These are not earthshattering choices, but ones that define their character.
If you don't want to settle into a book that will take a while to read, and you've never read Maeve Binchy, here is a good taste. I liked it especially well, as when I read it, I had little time available to read, it gave me just enough story to ponder on, each time I read.
Excellent bunch of stories.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on April 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had never read a collection of short stories before, by Maeve Binchy or any other author. What a pleasant surprise! The short story format made for a quick read, which is a nice change after reading The Glass Lake! The stories themselves oozed with Maeve Binchy's creative and imaginative style that I have come to enjoy after reading five of her books. Definitely a winner!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Lee Armstrong HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 9, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed Binchy's "Tara Road"; but "The Return Journey" is a mostly faceless collection of short stories that fade from memory as quickly as they are read. I finished this book less than a week ago and cannot recall "The Apprentice" at all. "Holiday Weather" about a botched affair is like watching a firecracker whose fuse fizzles before it pops. "Victor & St. Valentine" & "Crosslines" are forgettable. I did like "Miss Vogel's Vacation" about an unassuming woman who finds a little romance after being alive for 50 years. "The Home Sitter" was well told, but was frustrating since Allie who comes to their home and has a sparkling personality and gypsy-like appeal almost steals Mara's husband and leaves Mara feeling even more inadequate than when the story began. There is no lesson learned. My favorite story here is "The Women in Hats." It has a progression with the narrator, Helen, meeting a trio (Charlotte, Bonnie & Charlie) on a cruise liner and assuming that the man was with the thinner woman rather than the heavy-set Bonnie. Binchy makes a comparison about how people's judgments about gay people parallel their prejudice about fat people. "Excitement" was not. Unfortunately, Binchy has not mastered the short story form in this collection. She simply doesn't have many stories to tell. This is like reading writing exercises more than short stories. Taxi!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
New York Times-bestselling author of Evening Class and This Year It Will Be Different once again reveals her incomparable understanding of matters of the heart. In The Return Journey, Maeve Binchy brings us sons and lovers, daughters and strangers, husbands and wives in their infinite variety--powerfully compelling stories of love, loss, revelation, and reconciliation.A secretarys silent passion for her boss meets the acid test on a business trip....A man and a womans mutual disdain at first sight shows how deceptive appearances can be....An insecure wife clings to the illusion of order, only to discover chaos at the hands of a house sitter who opens the wrong doors....A pair of star-crossed travelers take each others bags, and then learn that when you unlock a strangers suitcase, you enter a stranger's life. In their company are many more, whose poignant, ironic, often humorous stories--unforgettable slices of life--make up The Return Journey, a spellbinding trip into the human heart.Maeve Binchy was born and educated in Dublin. She is the author of the bestselling books Evening Class, This Year It Will Be Different, The Glass Lake, The Copper Beech, The Lilac Bus, Circle of Friends, Silver Wedding, Firefly Summer, Echoes, Light a Penny Candle, and London Transports, three volumes of short stories, two plays, and a teleplay that won three awards at the Prague Film Festival. She has been writing for The Irish Times since 1969 and lives with her husband, Gordon Snell, in Dublin. Maeve Binchy captured the imagination of the world with her spellbinding tales of the Irish people. With her trademark charm, wit, and sheer storytelling genius, she tells stories that are at once universal yet uniquely Irish. Now in this delightful little book, she spins a collection of all-new yarns--stories of sadness and joy, warmth and humor. I'd also recommend, if you missed Tino Georgiou's novel--The Fates, getting a copy--absolutely fab..
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