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One of the World's Best Storytellers Remains with Her Readers in "Chestnut Street"
on February 26, 2014
***this review is based on an uncorrected proof of the soon-to-be-published hardcover edition***
A big thank you to Gordon Snell, Maeve's beloved husband, and to Alfred A. Knopf for allowing us to enjoy another brilliant short story collection by Binchy. 'Chestnut Street' (due to be released spring 2014) isn't a novel, but rather 36 short stories written by the author over a period of years about the residents of a fictional neighborhood in Ireland. Since my sons were very young, I've told them every person they'll ever meet has a story to tell. Everyone is someone's family member or friend, and we all lead interesting lives in one way or another. No one is insignificant. Maeve Binchy had a unique gift; the characters she wrote about felt real... as if the reader knew them from some facet of daily life. Such is the case when you read 'Chestnut Street'.
Joyce, for example, could be a friend or co-worker as she gets ready for a dinner with Leonard and Sally, who are trying to fix her up with new neighbor, Norman. Or there's Kevin, who drives a cab... how often do we wonder about the lives of those working jobs that often render them too easily invisible? Molly is trying to regain her footing after a heartbreaking divorce. Nuala can't quite accept her daughter, Katie's, fiancé. 'Chestnut Street' illustrates everyday events so we readers can still glimpse the magic in the mundane Binchy was so expert at describing. She understood life and people as few people do.
I highly recommend adding this short story collection to a shelf of Maeve Binchy's best works. You'll want to hang on to 'Chestnut Street' long after you've finished reading it the first time, because you'll pour a cup of tea or mug of coffee, open its pages again, and snuggle in for quiet, peaceful moments throughout the years. Much in the same way we revisit photo albums or scrapbooks and smile at remembered stories.