My Year of Binchy: Week 3

January 15 – 21, 2024

Okay, I didn’t read much this week for a couple reasons.

Reason number 1: It’s too cold outside to be out there for long periods of time. I like to spend at least a half hour reading and I’d have to take too many breaks for warmth to make sense of doing it that way. So I’m reading inside this week.

Reason number2: It was the Emmy’s on Monday and my brain couldn’t think about anything other than that, so no time to read.

Reason number 3: It was Mickey’s 4-day weekend (he works a very complicated schedule that is getting less complicated soon. It means that he rotates having a 3-day and 4-weekend. When I type it out like that it sounds so luxurious.) My brain has trouble relaxing into the reading while there is another person here.

Now, this has nothing to do with Mickey and everything to do with my brain. It can’t disconnect from another person being here and possibly judging me (?! gtfover it, already, brain!!!!). Especially with as emotional as these reading times have been. I know the root of that is my childhood and my mom always wrinkling her nose or disparaging books I chose to read, which was then echoed in a different way by my ex-husband. They really were very similar the more I look back at my life.

I think this will be easily overcome when the outside stoop is an option again. I successfully did it a couple times and know it’s an easy repeat. There is some hurdle my brain can’t get over with taking my reading time in the house.

At least the reading time for this project. I can read fine in the bath, no problem. However, I want to keep the Binchy books as a separate experience – otherwise I’ll find that I’m reading nothing more than Maeve in 2024. I require broader horizons than that.

Ok, here we go, let’s get back to Aisling and Elizabeth!

Saturday, January 20
  • Book: “Light a Penny Candle”
  • Chapters: 3 & 4
  • Location: Front couch, looking out at the snow on the front porch
  • Playlist: “For All Mankind: Official Playlist” – the instrumentals are IT, man!
  • Smoking: Dirty Little Secret, Indica flower from Goldkine in my Stevie pipe!
  • Did I cry? Yes, when I read a passage that dealt with forgiveness and moving on that revealed a lesson I’d never learned from this book before.

Okay, first off – the main character, Elizabeth is neurodivergent. Maeve Binchy didn’t have the words to write that when she did, and I didn’t even have the words for it al the times I’ve read this before, but it is painfully obvious to me. I have a feeling that this, uh, feeling will be echoed as I keep reading and reintroducing myself to all these characters again.

Maybe that is the key to why Binchy resonated with me so hard all of my life. And the reason why I was always unable to pinpoint what made her book so magical when I asked for similar recommendations at bookstores. I would always end up with some overly flowery romance, only sometimes about Ireland.

Second off, I don’t want to give away a lot of the plot, because I don’t want to be a spoiler sprouter, you know? However, I will say that Elizabeth both experienced her first Irish Christmas as was baptized by her classmates at school to keep her out of limbo.

The scariness of the wartime never really resonated for me when I read this before. My focus was always on the scariness of being in a new place with new people – the things that Elizabeth was experiencing at this time, how out of place she must feel and awkward her interactions must be.

At that time, there was even less way to figure out how to fit in. It must have been so hard to be like me and my friends back then. And much harder for us to find each other. I’m grateful for the Internet for that reason.

My brain is paying attention to the adults more, the letters Elizabeth’s mom, Violet, is writing to Elizabeth about life in London and how they differ from the letters Violet is writing Aisling’s mom, Eileen. Elizabeth’s are full of confusing acronyms that Aisling’s older war-obsessed brother, Sean, helps her understand. Violet tells Eileen about living out of the basement and lining the walls with mattresses to protect themselves from bombs.

But also how they are not different, because Violet does not really sugar coat things for Elizabeth, but writes to her as an equal. I get the vibe from this read that Violet didn’t really want to be a mom.

The title of book is revealed in one of these chapters! Outside the Kilgarret Catholic Church there is a manger set up for Christmas with candles arranged around it. If you donate a penny, you can light a candle and make a wish.

It’ll only be granted if you’re a proper Catholic, though, according to Aisling. So Elizabeth is better served saving her money for candy.

That must be one of the main reasons Elizabeth agreed to get baptized on the floor at school. So she could make a wish and have it granted.

Sunday, January 21

  • Book: “Light a Penny Candle”
  • Chapters: 5 – it was a big one.
  • Location: Front couch… tomorrow should be warm enough for outside!
  • Playlist: “For All Mankind: Official Playlist”
  • Smoking: Dirty Little Secret, but this time in a proper bong named Sharpie Buttsalot
  • Did I cry? Yes, almost immediately. And more than once.

Aunt Eileen called Elizabeth a “lovely little girl” for saying she didn’t need a birthday party because she’d never had one before. That’s it. That’s the cry.

It is possible that my emotions are all raw right now because I just shared the first 60odd (very odd) pages of my book “Benji SpaghettiHead” with a friend and she asssured me that they don’t read like a crazy person wrote them. I feel very relieved at that. But also, I really want nothing more than my head to be gently patted and called a “lovely little girl”.

Er, woman, I guess, nowadays. Almost into old lady territory, depending on who you ask.

I already love this family so much and they ripped one of the characters away from me. I didn’t remember his happening so early! Of course, I cried again.

This chapter ended part one of the book, which I didn’t remembering having parts. I wonder if a time jump awaits! We shall see.

2 Comments

  1. woozxyl

    I’d read it! I am a great beta-reader, even for those of whom I am fond.
    It sounds like you are experiencing Benchy with all senses 🙂
    If i could make a couple of recommendations; Georgette Heyer, for adventure and romance set it the late 1700s – 1820’s and fine mysteries set in the ’20s; Don’t forget Thorne Smith! You’ll pick up some very outdated slang and wonder why it isn’t in use now.

    • Jacki

      I’ll add them to my (admittedly very long) list for bath time reading! I love learning old slang. A lot of the more obscure words I know, I learned from reading. =)

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