on 30 July 2005
Silly as my title may seem, that's how I felt about Binchy's novel.
The writing is pedestrian, and the plot... non-existant. The book seems to be a collection of themes, thoughts on life that the author would like to get across without thinking too much about creating a story. Having said that, the themes are interesting... isolation in modern super-estates, the ever-widening generation gap... The main problem is the characters. Paul, the protagonist, although realistic in his actions, is someone I could never truly feel for. Perhaps too realistic? Not everyone cares for the daily thoughts and actions of someone so "like us" that he doesn't deserve to be a work of fiction. The teenagers are abhorrent... bags of nastiness without any redeeming qualities. Funnily enough, although the blurb on the book suggests Binchy is trying to challenge our prejudices directed towards the nameless youngsters we find gathering on street corners, he seems to be creating characters anyone really WOULD want to stay away from! Clare, in particular, is a nasty piece of work, the stereotypical sullen teenage daughter. Better characterisation would have made her likeable along with rebellious, but in my opinion, Binchy fails to make her anything more than a horrid clichè.
As for the home troubles Robbie is having? They seem to be simply thrown in at the last minute so we can get some sense of where the boy is coming from. Unfortunately they seem forced; too little, too late.
The only character who we learn enough about to feel for, Joe, is dropped completely at the end of the novel... perhaps Binchy shouldn't have given the reader so much back story in order to generate sympathy wasted on such a minor character?
I was expecting great things from Binchy; there aren't enough contemporary Irish authors writing urban stories. However, at the end of the book, I felt let down, and sorry I'd wasted my money on something I could have borrowed from the library.
on 21 December 2007
I found this a strange and ultimately disappointing book. Strange for, although it is well observed and the language and feel of life in suburban Dublin accurately portrayed, it is a story that lacks a strong narrative and indeed much narrative at all. A summer in a family's life, following the upheaval of a move from the centre to the edge of Dublin with the stresses and strains evident and the main character, the father, Paul, struggling to relate to the other members of his family, the book struggles to engage the reader and pull them into the story. The ending I found particularly limp.
on 16 May 2005
This book is set in Ireland, and follows the life of a man, Paul, struggling with work, family affairs and the issue of trust, as he decides that moving to a new area will give his family the new start they need. The story also focuses on the wife and children, particularly Paul's eldest daughter, her troubles with fitting in and difficult relationship with her father.
The plot of this book is well thought out, but it is Binchley's interpretation of feelings that is truly superb. Binchley has incredible understanding of how teenagers think and the pressures that they face, and it is this which brings the book to life and makes you keep turning the page. As the family try to adjust to a new neighbourhood, Paul discovers that the 'new start' is not as simple as it once seemed. The characters remain enticing throughout and as Clare, Paul's daughter, gets seriously involved with Robbie, a local troublemaker, Paul finds his trust in his daughter fade.
I really recommend this book, it's honestly really relevent and the writng amazing.