Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What I'm Reading

I'm reading FIREFLY SUMMER by Maeve Binchy, and really enjoying it.

It's set in a little Irish town, where a wealthy American businessman "comes home" to return to his Irish roots. He buys the property once owned by a powerful family that turned his family out when his father was just a boy. Patrick O'Neill wants to put things right, and make the little town of Mountfern more than what it is. But his plans could eventually put the local pub, owned by the Ryan family, out of business….

It's a lovely story because there aren't any heroes or villains per se – just flawed people with good intentions (unless you count the crooked local car dealer). It's leisurely, sprawling, slice-of-life stuff, where you get to know more and more people in the town as the story goes on. This is the first Binchy book I've read, but it won't be the last.

I'm discovering I really like gently-paced, small town stories like this one. Curtiss Ann Matlock's novels set in Valentine, Oklahoma are another example. Anyone have any others they'd like to recommend?


JoAnn Ross said...


This is the type of book I loved to read (and which I wrote until the U.S. market for them pretty much disappeared.) I've read all Binchy's books, and actually enjoy the older ones best, before she started shortening them a tad, I suspect, for the U.S. markets when she started selling here so well.

One of my most fun career things was when a reader reported back that one of my Irish books was in a dump by the cash register with Maeve in a Shannon airport duty free shop. I still laugh when I think of some tourist buying A Woman's Heart to read on the plane back to the States, opening it up to the bio page and saying, "The author's from the U.S.!" Talk about a letdown!!

I, too, love CurtissAnn, not just as a person, but a writer. Her old Silhouettes are some of the best books ever written in the genre and most could have well been single titles.

Other books much like this are Anne River Siddons, mostly set in the South, and, Pat Conroy, also set here in the South (his Beach Music was brilliant, as was The Great Santini , and his non fiction, Our Losing Season , about his basketball days at the Citadel, which apparently really riled up alumni), though in his people are usually much more depressed than in, say, Curtiss Ann's or Binchy's.

Samantha Hunter said...

One of my very favorite books in the world is Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. It's fantastic.

Laura Drewry said...

Anything by Mary Balogh. sigh

Sierra Donovan said...

Thanks for your comments and recommendations, everyone!

Laura, I went to a Mary Balogh workshop at Nationals a couple of years ago. I hadn't read any of her work. Before it was over, I had tears in my eyes just from hearing excerpts of books I'd never read! She's a lovely lady.