Saturday, August 4, 2012

Maeve Binchy (1940-2012)

We all have people in our lives who speak to us in one way or another, help us to reach for our goals and work to make our dreams come true. As a writer, there were two women who inspired me, and Maeve Binchy, who is one of them, died this past week. I am thinking of her and her work and how she has impacted me.

Ms. Binchy is an Irish writer. I was introduced to her back in the late 1980s when my best friend told me about her and gave me a copy of one of her books. “It make me think of us,” my friend told me. It was us. Binchy had so completely captured the feel, the reality of women and their friendships that I fell in love with her. She knows women, how they feel, how they relate, fight, support and love each other. My friend and I always kept each other up to date with her books. Once, when it was only available in the U.K. her husband bought us each a copy when he was there on business, and I remember thinking I was so lucky to have such a treasure!

Maeve Binchy wrote what she loved. She often said in interviews there were certain things she didn’t like to write about and so she didn’t. She wrote those things that she was familiar with, the people and lives she knew because she’d lived them herself. Full of humor, love and optimism, Maeve Binchy’s books make you feel as if these are not characters in books but real people. Men and women you might run into at the local cafe or store; who might be sitting next to you in church or the library. They’re real.

When I started writing my books I longed to tell women’s stories the same as she did. In my women’s fiction novel, In the Company of Women, I followed her example and wrote of a group of women, telling their stories by weaving them together and following their individual trails as well.

As a tribute to her, I named the main character in my cozy mystery series after her. And while the Maeve and Kate Mysteries are about solving crimes, at their heart they are about a friendship between two women that will survive anything.

There will be one more book from Maeve Binchy: A Week in Winter will come out this fall sometime. I cannot believe she is gone so soon, and there will be no more short stories on her website, no books to wait excitedly for. I will read again and revisit that marvelous country and people she loved to write about.

On her website where they posted news of her passing, they also posted this quote that I would like to share with you here. It’s pure Maeve Binchy ....

"The happiest moments of my life are connected with family and friends. There is a great comfort about being with people who knew you way back when. There is a mental shorthand, an easy-going feeling that life doesn't have to be explained or defined; we are all in more or less the same boat. To have a community around you in a changing and unstable world is invaluable and nothing can beat the feeling that there will always be people out for our good."

It feels like I've lost a friend. I will miss her.

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