Most helpful critical review
Intimate Glimpses into Stressed Families
on 15 July 2004
If you have been reading Maeve Binchy's recent books, undoubtedly you remember power confrontations at the elegant restaurant, Quentins, in Dublin. Somehow, Brenda Brennan swoops in to save the day . . . and make everyone who has been harmed feel better. Naturally, there was bound to be a book that delves behind those scenes to tell us more about Brenda and her husband, Patrick, and how Quentins came to be the poshest choice in Dublin. Quentins is that book.
When the story touches on those who are dining or working in Quentins, the book has the magic of the scenes you have enjoyed in books like Tara Road and Scarlet Feather. When the book moves away from that core, the story and fun are vastly diluted.
The structure of the book is to have the story of Quentins, the Brennans and those involved with Quentins be wrapped by a story concerning a young woman, Ella Brady, who is victimized by the classic married cheater. Finding herself facing hard times, she takes on every source of income she can find . . . and becomes involved in a proposal to create a documentary of Quentins. That overstory then becomes the excuse to dive into Quentins.
While telling the story of Quentins to sell the documentary, Ms. Brady finds herself telling some of the best tales about Quentins. These appear as short stories that stand alone in the book. Each one is a classic Quentins scene that will delight you like those you have read before. If Ms. Binchy had either focused solely on Quentins or had solely provided such short stories, she would have had a brilliant book. Alas, she did not. Perhaps in a future book, she will provide us with such stunning entertainment in a book-length series of short stories.
If you don't mind going through a dozy overstory, dive into this book so you can read and enjoy the nuggets. If you want to read an engrossing novel from beginning to end, skip this one.
How can your work be more rewarding to those you serve . . . and your own soul?