Reading Maeve Binchy’s books is akin to visiting old friends. You find familiar characters you’ve read about in her other books and get updates about their lives. If you are a fan of hers and have read almost all her books, you would know what I mean. For a wanna-be writer, I thought that is pretty clever of her to use familiar characters, except that new readers may find the numerous names rather confusing.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you enjoy Korean dramas, you’ll enjoy Maeve Binchy and this book. Minding Frankie is heart-warming and illustrates the saying that it takes a village to raise a child – in this case, a whole neighborhood. There are many sub-stories and characters which may very well spin-off to another book.
Noel, a drunk and a recluse, is told by a woman dying of cancer that he is the father of her unborn baby in a one-night drunken stupor. After much deliberation and support from his parents and cousin, and the whole neighbourhood, he takes on the role of fatherhood by attending AA meetings, going to night school and getting a new apartment. (That’s the difference between Asian and Western Societies. Asian parents would embrace the child into their home, regardless of how crowded the house already is.) The neighbourhood pitches in to help mind Frankie, the baby girl. The glue of the neighbourhood – an unlikely woman from New York, Emily.
Moira is the social worker assigned to Frankie and she is convinced that Noel would falter and bring harm to Frankie. Better to remove Frankie from Noel and put her up for adoption to a loving couple who really wants her.
Here, we get re-acquainted and updated with the characters from Heart and Soul – Clara Casey , Dr Declan and Father Brian Flynn. Also briefly mentioned is Fiona from Nights of Rain and Star. Of course, Maeve Binchy’s books would never fail to include the restaurant Quentins, for all the important events.
There are many other characters in other substories and what tugged my heart was how the community cope with the impending death of a dear neighbour, Muttie.
Binchy’s characters are never really bad. She digs deep into each character to explain the human persona behind the name. We may even find a glimpse of ourselves in some scenes, and that probably explains why Binchy is so well-loved by her fans.
I can’t imagine I was the last of my three reader-friends to read the book as I am usually the first to recommend them any books, but I am glad I finally did, since the book had been sitting on my shelves for almost a year. The book accompanied me on my tour to Hokkaido recently.
Next on my wish is to go to Dublin, and perhaps dine at Quentins, if it exists.