Chestnut Street is a horseshoe shaped crescent of about thirty nice family homes. It is the location for this charming collection of 36 short stories written by Maeve Binchy. It is her last book collected together by her husband Gordon Snell after her death in 2012. Some of these stories are already published in other collections, like `Star Sullivan' and `The Builders', but a vast majority of them are entirely new material.
I have been a lifelong fan of Maeve's inimitable warmth, her easy to read style of writing about friendships, family, loss, and new or enduring love and of problems associated with the living of a life. These are the issues that Maeve has used as the focus for this collection of stories. They are like little homilies that we might learn from, the advice of a dear and wise friend and are stories with a carefully hidden morale that soon becomes all too clear, just as Maeve intended. They are shortened versions of the style of book that was the cornerstone of Maeve's inspirational ideas for her many lovely books.
I did feel that a few of the stories had been written with the idea of Maeve coming back to them at a later date in some instances. But this was sadly not to be. Usually so very certain to present a carefully rounded story with an enticing beginning, a middle which developed the story in all its splendour and an ending that just melted the heart and was so very satisfying, occasionally I was surprised with a very abrupt ending and left to ponder just why the story had not been completed with the usual dedication in finding a satisfactory ending. But I did enjoy reading this 400-page collection and I read each story carefully and with nostalgia, all the time knowing that this would be Maeve's very last contribution, gifted to us by one of the most talented and well loved authors of the modern school of wonderful Irish fiction.