As always, Maeve Binchy delights me. I have never as yet read one of her books and not just wanted it to go on and on.
However, to a writer of Binchy's standard there are always great expectations and as much as I enjoyed "The Return Journey", in my opinion it's not one of her best.
The stories in this collection are uneven. In all of them the characters are interesting and the settings certainly pique ones curiosity. But while some are leading to a fulfilling conclusion, others just go nowhere and leave - at least me - feeling somewhat cheated. Not that life is not full of odd incidents with no particular meaning, but in a book of fiction one expects a bit of fairytale, unusual developments, excitement and, hopefully, a happy ending.
The abrupt endings leading into simply nothing, is the only flaw of an otherwise lovely collection of stories. Warm and thoughtful with lots of tiny observations along the road in true Maeve Binchy style.
My favourites are firstly "A Villa for Four", taking place in Greece. So real and alive, it's a true gem, especially for lovers of this country. Then "The September Letters", a story full of surprises which has it all - people from different backgrounds whose paths are crossing, leading to unexpected events and directions in their lives.
Almost 5 stars since what's good is excellent - 4 due to a bit too many vague and/or "missing" completions.