Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Firefly Summer

A saga. This is a saga of a family, of several families, of a town. Mountfern, Ireland is a sleepy, rural community. In the summer of 1962, the wealthy American Patrick O'Neill arrives in Mountfern trying to reconnect with his ancestral roots. He purchases the old O'Neill homestead and plans to develop it into a hotel. At the center of the story is the Ryan family; their pub stands to be rendered obsolete by the new O'Neill hotel. Over the next five years the entire village is changed by the O'Neill venture, none more so than the Ryans.

This is early Binchy, and the book is remarkable in its scope and scale. There are many characters and many strands of narrative. It has the Binchy touches of tone that will be familiar to her regular readers. The book took some time to get started. It took me some time to get invested, which I haven't found to be an issue in other Binchy works. I appreciated Binchy's willingness to take on what must seem to many Irish people as the absurdity of Americans coming back to "claim" their Irish heritage and expecting to be welcomed with open arms. Ultimately this book requires an investment of time. It's not the best example of Binchy's work, but it does serve the sort of comfort-read purposes that many find in Binchy.

Maeve Binchy, Firefly Summer (Dell, 2007) ISBN: 0385341717 

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