If we were having coffee I’d invite you to the café on the corner and ask you to bring your favorite book. What is it? I always jump right in with all my thoughts, so I’d like to hear about your book first. To my coffee share blog friends, what book have you brought?
Every year in March I do a tribute to my favorite author, Maeve Binchy. I usually do it on St Patrick’s Day, since she hails from Ireland. I’m a little late this year, but better late than never, I say. I met Maeve, and her books, (but I like to think I know her) in an English bookstore in the middle of nowhere Quebec, Canada. I have to admit the book was on the top of the checkout counter in full display and I bought the book only because she had such an unusual name! Oh, what a find that was! I read one book after another from that time on and was hooked on the writings of Maeve.
You see, I love the way Maeve wrote about ordinary people in ordinary circumstances in Ireland. I would often think how routine her characters were. There was nothing extraordinary in her writing or her stories. Or was there? I got to thinking about what it was that I loved about her books and decided without a doubt that it was her characters. She must have felt that way too because in many of her books we find her characters are living right on in following books with more new characters added to the fray. Before long I knew them all well and knew how they had progressed or not. It’s like being in one big Irish family.
My favorite character is Nancy from the book, The Lilac Bus. She is just one of the many characters that ride the bus from Dublin back to their hometowns on the weekends. Nancy is described so well and we all know a “Nancy” to some degree. Nancy is a penny pincher. Nancy, of course, thinks she’s just very thrifty and can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t do as she does. She lives with a roommate in Dublin, where she has moved to find work. The roommate, from the same village as Nancy, has taken Nancy on as a favor to her mother, who is a friend of Nancy’s mother. Very quickly her roommate comes to the conclusion that enough is enough and Nancy has to go. For example, Nancy leaves Dublin every weekend to go home on the Lilac Bus, so she can mooch off her mother rather than go out with any young people of her own age. The problem with the young people in Dublin is they like to party on weekends and at the bars she would be required sooner or later to buy them all a round of drinks, as it would be her turn. She is just not going to spend money on that! She believes she is doing the right thing by going home on the weekends. After all, she brings back food to the flat, that her mother has cooked, so she and her roommate won’t have to buy any food for the following week. She doesn’t understand why her roommate would not want to eat leftovers! She also brings back any curtains or other goods because she doesn’t want to spend money on things she can “borrow” from her mother. She deducts her portion of the electricity, or any portion of the household utilities for the days she is not staying in the flat. After all, if she’s not there she’s not using any of the services. She tries hard to fit in and emulate what others do, but just without spending any money. One way she tries to make friends is by writing nice words to someone to send in a note. She doesn’t buy greeting cards of any kind, (she studies the wording on them when she visits the drug store as she waits for the bus to arrive) and then writes a note with those words instead of purchasing the card. She has all the cards memorized now. When friends come to visit at the flat she takes candy from the jar at the place of her employment, when asked to provide treats. Nobody is going to miss a handful or so of candy are they? Even when she visits her mother she cannot understand why her mother leaves the house and goes to visit with friends, rather than be with her! After all, she’s coming home to see her mother! She just drives everyone nuts! She doesn’t have any friends and can’t understand why. I could go on and on about Nancy! How can you forget a character like that? You can’t! And she is just one of the characters featured in The Lilac Bus, oh my!
My next favorite character is Signora from the book, Evening Class. There are many characters that intertwine in this book too, but Signora melds them all together. Signora left Dublin at eighteen to follow her heart. The only problem is her heart throb turns out to be a married man. She has pulled up roots, left her family, moved to Italy, and then discovered her man is married! So what does she do? She stays for the next thirty years, watching the love of her life live a life without her. Everyone in the village knows who she is and why she came to Italy, even the man’s wife. She can not be persuaded to leave and eventually over the years she becomes part of the fabric of the village. Her lover comes to her when he can and this is enough for her. Over the years she writes faithfully to her family, but they never respond because they feel she has made a fool of herself and shamed the family. When her lover dies unexpectedly, his children convince her that her time in Italy has come to an end and for the best of everyone it is time to go back to her family in Ireland. What family in Ireland? She leaves reluctantly with no money, and no skills for employment. What takes place next is set in Ireland revealing her struggling interactions with her family and the making of new friends, who are all dealing with challenges themselves. It’s all about the characters! Evening Class takes on a life of its own!
So Maeve, cheers to you! I still love to read your books over and over. Even though you are no longer with us, I know you are smiling as we read and love your storytelling! I’m sharing some photos of Ireland that I know you would enjoy!
So dear coffee mates this week I have been looking at my book manuscript with eleven completed chapters. I love my characters too! I have enough characters to complete several books! I hate to give up some of the good bits. But, is it enough of a story line? Do I need a murder in there to spice things up? I can’t get this book out of my head. I need to get on with it and finish it. Maeve I could use some inspiration and guidance here. You’ll know what to do and it will come to me.
So if you are done with your coffee, I am too. Back to writing for me. I am glad you came for coffee and I am glad I shared Maeve with you!
Do you love the characters you read about in your books? Who do you like? Do the characters make the book or does the plot carry it along for you? Let me know what you think! I’d love to read all about it!
This is part of the #Weekend Coffee Share! I think it is great having coffee with all of you! It is hosted by Nerd in the Brain! Be sure to link up so you can see what everyone else is saying over coffee!
See you next Saturday!