‘Nights of Rain and Stars’ by Maeve Binchy

NightsofRainandStars

Fiction – paperback; Orion; 400 pages; 2005.

Reading a book by Maeve Binchy is akin to sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s day with a box of chocolates and a bottle of red wine: cosy and comforting. Maeve Binchy is one of my guilty pleasures, although it’s been about a decade since I last succumbed to temptation.

Night of Rain and Stars is not strictly typical Binchy fare, mainly because it’s set in Greece (not Ireland) in current times (not the 1950s or 60s). But it still has heart-warming characters, each of whom is struggling with personal issues. First, there’s David a young Englishman on the run from his parents who want him to work in the family business; Elsa, a beautiful and kind (there’s always one of these characters in a Binchy book) TV journalist from Germany on the run from a lover she cannot trust; Fiona, a naive nurse from Dublin who’s hooked up with a violent boyfriend her family can’t stand; and Thomas, a Californian academic on sabbatical who is still hurting from a divorce in which he lost custody of his young son.

These four characters are thrown together after a shipping disaster in the harbour of the idyllic Greek village they are all visiting for the summer holidays. Within days they have forged firm friendships with one another and discovered that they are all on the run from problems at home. Together, with the help of two local residents —  Andreas the elderly Greek taverna owner and Vonni the middle-aged expat Irishwoman who runs a craft shop — each person finds a solution they’d not ever anticipated.

Okay, it sounds a little soppy — and completely unrealistic (I mean, who makes instant friendships on a holiday?), but to be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely story which is about family relationships and the bonds of friendship. It’s an easy read, helped by ginormous-sized printing (perhaps indicating the “older” age group this book is likely to attract), but it’s a quick read too if you don’t mind stories without an obivous plot and a happy, relatively predictable, ending.

This book isn’t going to challenge you on any literary or intellectual level, but it doesn’t make any claims to do so. And sometimes it’s nice to read something completely escapist and “dependable”, isn’t it?

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8 thoughts on “‘Nights of Rain and Stars’ by Maeve Binchy

  1. Yes, it is! I’ve never read any Maeve Binchy before, but you make it sound so tempting, like a rich decadent meal. I have seen Ms. Binchy interviewed on TV in the past, and what I really found much more interesting than her books was her own life story. She worked very hard to get where she is, and though very genteel and charming, she struck me as a right scrapper, than one. She’s the kind of person I’d love to have over for tea and gossip.

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  2. I’ve had this one of my list just for the setting alone – Greece! I’ve only read one Binchy novel(can’t even remember the name now) and it was pure escapist fun.

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  3. Patricia, you have described Maeve Binchy perfectly. I met her once when she did a book signing at the bookstore I was working in. She was utterly charming and quite jolly – the perfect person to invite around for tea and a good old gossip!
    Iliana, yes, the Greek setting is quite charming. She talks about the food in such a way that you end up craving olives and fetta cheese to nibble on as you turn the pages.

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  4. I recently read this (thanks to you!) and I really enjoyed this light-hearted read. I was totally sucked into it and as you said, makes you want to eat feta and olives! I’ve passed it on down the book-chain to Marianne… It was a bit unbelievable it the way that the people all became so close within a short amount of time, but still, I remember when I travelled alone I made friends with people and felt like I had always known them. Maybe it could be believable afterall…

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  5. I wonder if Binchy actually wrote this novel! So unlike her usual style, no in depth characterisation, lack of place descriptions, lazy plotting etc. Has she actually done any promotional work for it? My own feeling is that it has been ghost written and the publishers may be just using the Binchy name to extend the franchise.

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  6. My biggest gripe about Binchy is how many times in every novel she uses the word ‘companiable’ – completely over-used work and sums up the triteness of some of her books. Didn’t enjoy this one too much – loved Evening Class and Cirle of Friends though – perhaps that’s becuase they were the first Binchy’s I’d read?

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  7. I haven’t read this, but I do love Maeve Binchy. Not intellectually challenging by any stretch of the imagination, but always — well, it’s like you say — always, I think, about the bonds of families and friends, and about how those things matter. And it’s corny, but they do.

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