Monday, 18 October 2010

Minding Frankie, Maeve Binchy: Guest Review by Becky D

Do you remember me?
I must confess before beginning this review that I have never read a Maeve Binchy book before and that I have never had the inclination to do so either. I usually like my chicklit quick, bright and bubbly and always thought Maeve Binchy books might be a bit too, for lack of a better word, too emotional for me. However, when I was given ‘Minding Frankie” to read and review I found myself unable to put it down even putting aside my usual after work Friends episode in favour of picking up this book.

The story centres around the residents of a street in Dublin and their family relationships. It begins with the birth of baby Frankie born to a dieing mother and eventually entrusted to her alcoholic father, Noel, who seems happy to plod along with his life just heading to the office during the day and the pub at night. However, when he is faced with raising Frankie he steps up and the book follows his efforts to raise her along with help from the entire street. Although he works hard to raise Frankie well the author hasn't just opted for the easy route of him pulling up his socks and becoming a great father she has given him some trials and also shown his weaknesses which made for a really compelling read. I found myself having to read on the train to and from work and at lunchtime because of my curiosity to find out what happened. I admit usually my lunchtimes are reserved for gossip websites so this was a refreshing change!

The book also follows the lives of the other residents from love affairs to illness to the bid to erect a large statue of a saint no one has even heard of but is the name sake of the street the resident live on.
There is a large cast of characters in the story and each has there own journey through the book and I was gripped by many of these stories, keen to find out what happened to each resident. I enjoyed the camaraderie created by the author among the characters. It wasn’t just separate stories thrown together in one book but interconnected lives going on at the same time. There was a lot of warmth among the characters and I really did find myself cheering them on in their various pursuits. I always think it marks out a good book if I actually start to get involved and concerned about the fictional lives of people I am reading about!

My only issue with this book is that having so many characters did create a bit of confusion for me at times, trying to keep tabs on who was doing what and remembering who the minor characters were when they hadn't been mentioned for a while I might perhaps recommend the author add a “family tree” of the street to keep all the names straight!

But I would still definitely recommended ‘Minding Frankie’ as a great read. It was interesting and involving and has persuaded me it might be time to head to the book shop and look up some other Maeve Binchy books.

Minding Franky is available for about £9-ish.