Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maeve Binchy

I was really saddened to learn that best-selling Irish author Maeve Binchy has died aged 72 after a short illness.

In 2007 I was lucky enough to meet her at the launch party in Dublin for Abby Green's very first Mills & Boon novel. She was a lovely, warm-hearted and welcoming woman  and I really enjoyed talking with her.  She invited me to visit her  with Abby when I was next in Ireland but sadly she was never well enough to fulfil that invitation.

Maeve  Binchy, born in Dalkey, Co Dublin, has sold more than 40 million books. Her works were often set in Ireland and have been translated into 37 languages. They include The Lilac Bus as well as Tara Road and Circle of Friends, which were both adapted for screen.

She  trained as a teacher before moving into journalism and writing, publishing her first novel. Light a Penny Candle was written  in her spare time from her day job as a journalist at The Irish Times - in 1982.

Maeve Binchy  was renowned for her generosity and support of others, writing in a guide for aspiring writers: "The most important thing to realise is that everyone is capable of telling a story. It doesn't matter where we were born or how we grew up".

In a 2001 interview with the BBC after she had won the WHSmith Book Award for fiction, she described the five rejections she received for her first novel as "a slap in the face".  But she said she was glad she persevered and sent the book to a sixth publisher.

Maeve Binch and Abby Green
at the launch of Abby's first book
"It's like if you don't go to a dance you can never be rejected but you'll never get to dance either," she said.

The author said that her secret was to write the way she spoke.

"I don't say I was proceeding down a thoroughfare, I say I walked down the road. I don't say I passed a hallowed institute of learning I say I passed a school. You don't wear all your jewellery at once - you're much more believable if you talk in your own voice," she said.

In 2000, Maeve  Binchy was ranked third in the World Book Day poll of favourite authors - ahead of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

She received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Book Awards in 2010, the same year her last novel, Minding Frankie, was published.

I remember a warm and vibrant personality who sadly is no longer with us.  My deepest sympathies go to her beloved husband and her family.


Scarlet Wilson said...

Lovely tribute Kate, really sad news. Somehow I think we'll all be pulling out her books again tonight.

Michelle Styles said...

A lovely tribute Kate.
I can remeber reading and really enjoying Maeve Binchy my final year at university and whenever I read her books, it brings that time back to me.

Vikki (www.the-view-outside.com) said...

So sad :(

Thank you for sharing your memories Kate x

Sharon Kendrick said...

What a lovely warm smile she has - and how lucky you are to have met her, Kate.
I absolutely adore her books - she was a consummate story-teller who always managed to speak to the heart.
A great lady.

Maria Mohan said...

I'm very sad too, Kate. I loved Maeve's work. She was great, wasn't she?


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