Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tara Road by Maeve Binchy--Dedication to the Wonderful People of the Ukraine


     This post is dedicated today to the wonderful people of the Ukraine. My heart goes out to you in your time of struggle and suffering. I wish I could fix this for you, but we all know I can't. What you are all going through right now is absolutely don't really need me to tell you that. But...please know that I keep you all in my heart and extend my arms to you in love. God bless you.

Tara Road book cover image is

TARA ROAD by Maeve Binchy

Book Review by Sharon Powers.

 Just as the Titanic, once thought to be a ship of dreams, sank and left survivors floundering and floating in lifeboats, Tara Road, is the hub around which Binchy sets the lives of the up-scale and exclusive families. They live, and seem to flounder through their lives on Tara Road, each surviving in their own individual lifeboat.   

  While Binchy utilizes a number of colorful and interesting characters, her focus is on Ria Lynch and the people around her that move out and away from her like the spokes on a wheel--not unlike the lifeboats floating out and away from the Titanic. As the story begins we see Ria and Danny (Ria's husband) buying a beautiful home in the upscale and trendy Tara Road district. They go to no ends to beautifully furnish the lovely home. Ria's forte is cooking; her food pleases everyone's palate except her husband Danny's. Danny separates from Ria; it seems his tastes run to a very pregnant young woman with whom he's had an affair.

Tara Road cover for DVD on Amazon.
  Ria--now foundering and alone--arranges, with an American woman, for an exchange of homes for the summer. Marilyn, with a talent for gardening (and a virtual green thumb), exchanges her beautifully gardened home in America with Ria's home in Dublin. Across an ocean and over the summer the women learn about each other's secrets and the consequences of involving themselves in each other's life. 

  Binchy ties everything up by the end in a surprising, albeit satisfying manner. Binchy's stories tend to be didactic, but not blatently so. They entertain and instruct and seem to convey a rich truth to the reader (without being preachy). The word allegory comes to mind, here. We don't see happy, romantic endings in her work, but rather, as in Tara Road, two women who learn truths about their lives, namely, that after you lose someone you love, you can learn to live again. Ria doesn't reunite with her husband (as she fantasizes) and Marilyn learns to accept her loss (that she's been trying to avoid), as well. They are only able to learn these things by each of them secretly helping the other.

  This wonderful and poignant book was an Oprah's Book Club selection in 1999. Then, in 2005, Tara Road came to the big screen as a a movie with the same name. The movie starred Andie McDowell and Olivia Williams, Johnny Brennan, Iain Glen, Jennifer Buckley, and the director was Gillies MacKinnon; it was released to DVD October 9, 2007.

I am delighted to have found a trailer of the movie, Tara Road, for you to enjoy. Here it is:

About the Author: Maeve Binchy is a well-known, and very well-loved, Irish author focusing on the life of women and their families, generally, in smallish towns and cities in Ireland. She also wrote short stories and was a speaker, columnist and playwright. The endings of many of her books were characterized by surprise endings cleverly done and often humorous. She completed sixteen novels, one play, novella(s), and four collections of short-stories. For her work she won the British Book Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999, a People of the Year Award in 2000, the W.H. Smith Book Award for Fiction in 2001, the Irish PEN Award, in 2007, an Irish Book Award for lifetime achievement, and in 2012 another Irish Book Award in the Irish Popular Fiction category. Three of her works went to film: Circle of Friends, Tara Road, and How About You (an Irish film). Some of her work has also appeared on radio and television. Well-known and beloved author Maeve Binchy passed away at the age of 72 on July 30, 2012 after a short illness.

What Do I Think About Tara Road?
  I loved the story. Binchy immediately gets the reader interested (and invested in) the character of Ria (and Marilyn when she is introduced). Binchy lets the story gently unfold--it seems to grow like the plants in Marilyn's garden warmed by the sun opening to its rays. I loved the metaphors of cooking and gardening. Ria nurtures everyone with her magnificent cooking. Marilyn tends her garden beautifully until (metaphorically speaking) one of her plants dies.

     Once the women exchange houses for the summer, Marilyn begins tending Ria's garden; she begins by cutting away the dead wood and putting things to right [Snicker, snicker.]. In America, Ria is also involving herself in Marilyn's life and "cooks up" (sorry for the shameless puns) her own solutions for Marilyn's problems. Binchy is thoroughly delightful in the way she utilizes the disparate talents of the two women. If you haven't read this book yet, when you do, be sure to look for the cooking and gardening themes throughout the book. I loved the book. My rating for this beautiful book is 4.0 Stars out of 5.

My Rating:    4.0 Stars out of 5  

Amazon Rating     4 Stars (407 Reviewers)
GoodReads          3.8 Stars (1,244 Reviewers)
Google Books      4.0 Stars (60 Reviewers)

Book Information:
ISBN 0440235596 (ISBN13: 9780440235590)
Pages: 656
Publisher: Dell; Oprah's Book Club Edition (09-04-07)
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English

ASIN: B000W969EK

It has been delightful being with you today. I hope you enjoyed my review of Maeve Binchy's, Tara Road. Until next time...

...many happy pages of reading.

__________________________________________________ - TARA ROAD (book and book cover) by Maeve Binchy on Amazon; - Oprah's Book Club selection, 1999, Tara Road - Tara Road, big screen 2005; - Tara Road DVD cover; - Tara Road Trailer; - Amazon Ratings; - Google Books; - 4 Stars out of 5; - About the Author and photograph; - white rose.