The Copper Beech ebook

by Maeve Binchy

In the Irish town of Schancarrig, the young people carve their initials-and those of their loves—into the copper beech tree in front of the schoolhouse. But not even Father Gunn, the parish priest, who knows most of what goes on behind Shancarrig's closed doors, or Dr. Jims, the village doctor, who knows all the rest, realizes that not everything in the placid village is what it seems. Unexpected passions and fear are bringing together the lives of so many, such as the sensitive new priest and Miss Ross, the slight, beautiful schoolteacher... Leonora, the privileged daughter of the town's richest family and Foxy Dunne, whose father did time in jail...and Nessa Ryan, whose parents run Ryan's Hotel, and two very different young men. For now the secrets in Shancarrig's shadows are starting to be revealed, from innocent vanities and hidden loves to crimes of the heart...and even to murder.
I loved this book, as I do all of Maeve Binchy books. Nora (who calls herslef Signora) lived in Italy for many years, so she could be closer to her lover, Mario. When Mario is killed, his wife and family request Signora return to her native Ireland. She does, and meets Aiden Dunn, who is trying to start an evening class in his beloved Italian language. Signora eagerly agrees to teach it, and a motley collection of people join up, each with his or her own reasons. Signora assigns them all new names in Italian. Bill, a banker (called Guglielmo) and his airhead girlfriend Lizzie (Elizabetta) take the course to hopefully become a banker in Italy. Connie (called Constanza) is going through a public breakup, and wants to take Italian in the hopes that her first boyfriend is in the class. She is extremely wealthy. Laddy (Lorenzo) is a simple man with learning challenges, who works as a hotel porter. He finds a great deal of money a wealthy Italian family drop, and he tracks them down and returns it. He believes they invite him to spend time in Italy. Lou (Luigi) is a gangster, who is instructed to take the class and finds himself enjoying it greatly. Fiona doesn't take the class, but is figured highly in the story. Her boyfriend, Barry (Bartolomeo) is in the class. The class plans a trip to Italy as a group.
Hearing everyone's story, and seeing how they all interrelate, is wonderful. It's a great book, I've read it several times.
This is an enjoyable novel by Binchy. Admittedly I am a fan of her work overall and have read most of her novels so I may be more generous with the scoring on her books than others. Really this one was somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. Binchy has a cozy, easy writing style and is good at telling a story. Her novels often center around relationships and careers and are always involving characters from her native Ireland. She can create good characters, though they are sometimes uneven. This book is what I would describe as "later Binchy." Early Binchy often were tales that took place in small Irish towns of the 1950's and 1960's. Later Binchy novels usually take place in Dublin and have characters that show up for cameos in different novels. They also are often a group of inter-linked stories rather than one narrative tale.

This novel takes place in Ireland of the 90's and is set mostly in a poor neighborhood of Dublin. It is a group of stories, told from the different POV's of people associated with an Evening Class in Italian speaking. Each story is like a mini-Binchy novel and many elements that appear in early novels appear again in these stories. There are cheating husbands and wives (like in all of her novels). Handsome rakes that end up to be no good cheaters ( in almost all of her novels). A woman who saves the people ripped off by her husband's business (like in Tara Road). A eerily accurate fortune teller shows up (like in Glass Lake, Tara Road, and possibly more). The high class Dublin restaurant Quentins shows up again in this one. Signora and Aidan, the two main characters, make their first appearance in this novel. They also become Binchy staples and appear in many of her later novels. Some story ends are not wrapped up, some characters are great and some are flat. This book also has a weakness that shows up in many of Binchy's more modern novels, in that she has trouble writing realistic "modern" female characters. They often come across as what a sheltered middle-aged or older person thinks young women are like these days. However, if you are a fan of Binchy in general you will like this book and it keeps you interested throughout.
I read Tara Road about 10 years ago and loved it. So I decided to try this one. It was a bit slow at first because Aiden is the first character. He was not my favorite. But the way Binchy connects all her characters is absolutely brilliant! I couldn't stop reading it. There are so many characters connected that when you began a new chapter you would see a familiar name mentioned and wrack your brain trying to remember who they were. But as you continue to read a few pages you are like "OMG" as you realize the connection.
I am a long-time fan of Maeve Binchy. It seems from the other reviews that I still need to read "Copper Beech." That will be my next book purchase, and then maybe, the CD.

I recently ventured into books in CD form when I began to have difficulty sleeping. My eyes would be tired from reading, but my brain insisted on staying awake. So I bought a familiar - and well-liked - story from another author, and found that more often than not, I would simply drift asleep while the story was still playing. So I went ahead and bought other books in THAT series, and when wondering where to start next, I saw my collection of Maeve Binchy's books sitting on my bookshelf, and that was that. While I love the way several of her books interweave (everybody turns up in Quentin's, sooner or later!), my far-away favorite has always been "Evening class, mostly because I, too, love the Italian language and have enjoyed many a happy evening during my adult life in classes of various languages. (We've never managed a viaggio, however!)

Like most of her books, Mrs. Binchy tells this story in such a way that you soon feel drawn into a circle of friends, rather than characters in a book. You get to know them and you care about them - as they learn to care about each other. I have also read Scarlet Feather and Tara Road, and they are absolutely as delightful as Evening Class.

Hearing a musical Irish feminine voice narrating was even more soothing than hearing the man in the previous set of books. My husband, a psychotherapist, suggested that perhaps hearing these voices as I drifted off to sleep reminded me of my father and grandmother reading to me when I was very small. Perhaps so.

I would suggest reading the books first, to get a feeling for them and to familiarize yourself with the characters. Then, if you like them, treat yourself to the CD version. Absolute bliss - not it's not illegal, immoral, or fattening! Just gentle, heart-warming enjoyment.
The Copper Beech ebook
Maeve Binchy
Genre Fiction
EPUB size:
1233 kb
FB2 size:
1226 kb
DJVU size:
1820 kb
Dell (October 2, 1993)
Other formats:
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