Saturday, May 3, 2014

CHESTNUT STREET by Maeve Binchy Audio Edition

Cannot think of a more perfect narrator for Chestnut Street than Dublin born Sile Birmingham.  Her voice has the faintest, most affecting touch of an Irish accent yet at the same time holds strength and power.  She easily segues from one cast of characters to another in this collection of 36 stories, deftly assuming a childlike voice or that of a grumpy person.  Happy to say Birmingham came to New York where she has garnered an impressive number of theater credits.  Rightly so!

What can one say about Maeve Binchy that has not been said been before?  Believe I discovered her with Tara Road and have been a fan since then.  Her passing a few years ago saddened me as I so appreciate her wisdom, kindness and humor.  Insightful, warm hearted she gave us fully realized characters as is the case with these stories that generally feature the female of the species in her many forms.

There’s Molly who suffers from sleep deprivation, Dolly who discovers some surprising things about her perfect mother, and a child who finds divorce confusing, unfathomable.  Of course, there are domestic problems on Chestnut Street, this semicircle of 30 modest homes in Dublin.  Why is a woman silent when her husband is being unfaithful?  What does big-hearted Lillian see in her fianc√© that no one else does - in fact, quite the opposite?  Yes, Chestnut Street is a busy place and also a haven for many from nurse to window cleaner and even a would-be fortune teller.

As always Maeve Binchy treated these folks honestly, gently and with a touch of scolding when necessary.  Delightful reading from a writer who is greatly missed.
Gail Cooke


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