Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"The Lilac Bus" plus four short stories

Following one of my reading themes, sampling the works of popular writers of my time that I haven't quite gotten around to, I settled on this novella and four stories by Maeve Binchy. The "bus" is written by the device of eight vigniettes about the lives of citizens of a tiny town in the west of Ireland who work, during the week, in Dublin. Each Friday evening, they climb aboard the purple mini-bus driven by Tom, the last story to be told. He takes them all home for a reasonable fare; everyone has the weekend with family in the village; on Sunday evening, they all go back to Dublin. The people have known one another for years, so we see each one thru the eyes of some or all of the others, as the book progresses. The yarns are intertangled in some cases; mainly, each character seems to find some resolution to problems in their lives: one young woman comes to terms with her own nature, which others see as selfish, thoughtless, remote and too penny-pinching (like "Georgie Girl" of the 1960's); another, with a life of crime, etc. The best story, imo, was "Flat in Ringsend", a small classic in the genre of "the alien or outsider comes to belong". An eighteen year old country girl with her first job, free in Dublin, figuring out the ropes of living on her own, finding a flat to share with strange roommates, arranging a social life for herself, finding friends. We see the strangeness thru her "new eyes". Tho it was no problem to finish reading the book, I feel comfortable with one "Maeve Binchy" exposure.

1 comment:

  1. I think I've read all of Maeve Binchy's novels, and "The Lilac Bus" was one of my least favorites. I read it years ago, but seem to remember that it felt darker than her other books, and I wanted both more detail about the characters and more of a sense of hope. Given the other books you've reviewed, I'm not sure Binchy is an author you would hugely enjoy, but if you did want to try another one, I'd recommend "Tara Road".

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