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The Return Journey
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2013
It was an excellent book to read I am a great fan of Maeve Binchy and truly recommend this book
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on 18 April 2015
Several people had told me that Maeve Binchy was an excellent writer and told great stories with believable characters. So I was thrilled when her book of short stories The Return Journey and other Stories came up as the book to read on my book group. I had previously read one novel by Maeve Binchy, Full House, which is reviewed here: https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/full-house-by-maeve-binchy/. Although I did not enjoy that book very much, I was willing to give Maeve Binchy another try. She is a much respected writer.

Maeve Binchy Snell was born Anne Maeve Binchy on 28 May 1939 in Dalkey, Ireland. When when recording a piece for Woman's Hour in London, England she met the children's author, Gordon Snell, who was a freelance producer with the BBC. Their friendship blossomed into a cross-border romance, with her in Ireland and him in London, until she eventually secured a job in London through the Irish Times. She and Snell married in 1977 and, after living in London for a time, moved to Ireland. They lived together in Dalkey, not far from where she had grown up, until Binchy's death on 30 July 2012. The author was known as Maeve Binchy and was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, columnist, and speaker best known for her sympathetic and often humorous portrayal of small-town life in Ireland. Her readers often speak about her descriptive characters, her interest in human nature, and her often clever surprise endings. Her best selling novels were translated into 37 languages and sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. There is no doubt that Maeve Binchy is one of the world's favourite storytellers.

The Return Journey and other Stories is a book of short stories, not a novel. As might be expected, I enjoyed some of the stories more than others. The book is several small sections, each with its own set of characters who never meet up or connect with the next story's set of characters. In fact, each story seems unfinished. You meet the character or characters, something happens to set the story in motion, and just as you get to the climax of the story where you expect the conflict to start resolving, it moves on to the next story, the characters of the last never to be heard from again. All the stories are tales about travel: people going somewhere, people returning from somewhere, people in the middle of their journey, people just trying to get started.

I did enjoy the story where a pair of star-crossed travelers pick up each other's bags, and then learn that when you unlock a stranger's suitcase, you enter a stranger's life. I also enjoyed the story about a spinster who watches other lives only to find her happiness late in life realizes just how unhappy she could have been if she had led a more typical life. Another story tells of a housewife who retains the service of a house-sitter finds that her life is missing something, she sees a glimpse of what it could be and never quite recovers her happiness. Again a secretary's silent passion for her boss meets the acid test on a business trip. The reader learns whether she adores him as much when she knows him better.

In the more poignant, ironic and sometimes humorous stories, The Return Journey walked the reader through the lives of many people sometimes their interaction was indirect and accidental, sometimes it involves a compassionate gesture that is accepted. However, on the whole, these were not my kind of tales. I doubt that I would seek out another book by Maeve Binchy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2009
I was delighted to receive the new offering from Maeve Binchy and settled down for a read but sadly I was very disappointed the stories seemed to go nowhere and ended suddenly or the ending was patently obvious from the start For the first time ever i didnt even bother to finish this book which has only happened with one other book in my recollection. so pay your money and take your chance doesnt suit me but you may love it
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2010
Bought this to read whilst returning from a trip abroad. I have read Maeve Binchy novels before so I thought it would be a good one to while away the ferry crossing on. Sadly I found the stories uninspiring and felt that they had unexciting endings. I guess I like a twist or something unexpected to happen, but these were so predictable. Definitely a book to leave at the surgery or on a train! Somebody else out there will enjoy it, I am sure...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2011
This is a short stories novel and is fairly good but not near Maeve's best work.
Some stories like all are better than others. The title is mis-leading as you believe it to be one long story.

I think Maeve struggled in the writing of this novel.
If you are deciding between this book and Maeve's latest one, I would immediately recommend her latest novel as it is excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2011
With the exception of 2 of the stories, I was a bit disappointed in this. I used to enjoy Maeve Binchy in the 1980s, and felt the book was a bit of a throwback (in style and content), possibly some of the stories were reworked from then. OK to dip in and out of if you're after something very light, but I couldn't remember many of them the next day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2013
I enjoyed the book and it illustrates the skill of short story writing involving tales round every day lives. But I do not think this was Ms Binchy's best to date, and while reflecting on social mores and the normality of life, it did not really take you much beyond the idea that as you go through life be ready for the unexpected.
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on 6 April 2013
Since I use my kindle only for travelling I find reading a full length novel difficult. Some weeks may have elapsed since the last read and I've forgotten how the story was evolving or confuse it with other books i am reading at the same time. With this in mind short stories are ideal.
Not being a great advocate of short stories and loving the writing of Maeve i was delighted to find this one but discovered I wanted the story to continue each time. The plot of each tale would have been enough to develop into a book and I was left wanting more. The abrupt endings frustrated me somewhat. Such cleverly thought out stories deserved more detail and more importantly a more drawn out ending.
Maeve's writing has always been a joy, so relaxing, easy to follow but believable characters I still enjoyed the book and had fun writing the rest of the tales in my head and planning on how I would have continued the story An excellent Kindle read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 2009
I had a strong case of deja vue when reading this book. I really enjoyed it but some of the stories I have read before in other compilations which was disappointing. I wish that the description had been clearer.
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on 28 April 2012
Unlike some other reviewers I hadn't read any of these short stories before.

The stories are all loosely based on travel, but each is really an insight into the lives, feelings and emotions of her characters, and often what is seen on the surface is not what actually lies beneath. An ideal book to give to your mother or aunt as sexual encounters are not examined in detail, although there are a few "wronged" women scattered about. The stories are mostly written from the female point of view.

Ideal reading for a journey, or where you might be frequently interrupted, as the bite-size stories are not too involved or difficult to follow.
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