My Year of Binchy: Week 1

January 1-7, 2024

Okay, well starting here is kind of cheating because I have been reading the same Maeve Binchy book since October. I have been savoring it, y’all!

I’m currently slowly reading the stories in “a Few of the Girls” which I found in Canada in 2023, with no idea it even exitsted.

I have read and reread each Maeve Binchy book at least five times over, so finding one that I had no idea existed seemed like a sign. Then I read what the book actually was – it is a collection of stories Maeve wrote for smaller publications and as gifts for her friends. I’ve never thought of gifting someone a story before, but now the idea delights me.

Maeve’s husband, Gordon, put the stories together after she passed away and I’m glad she did. I’ve been savoring each one.

Wednesday, January 3
  • Book: “A Few of the Girls”
  • Story: “Broken China”
  • Location: Front Porch, twinkle lights on, 34 degrees
  • Playlist: “For All Mankind: Official Playlist”
  • Smoking: mixed up goldkine bowl in my Sharpie Buttsalot 2 waterpipe
  • Did I cry? Misty eyes, yes, but no tears spilled over

And these are the random thoughts I had while reading, in no particular order:

  • What are hollyhocks? Will they grow here?
  • This is the kind of networking I would like to do. it feels more human.
  • Okay, so this was a sweet tale of breakup. Most of Maeve Binchy’s stories are romantic in nature, but they don’t feel like romance for drama’s sake, but instead they feel very human and they don’t think like fake romance people, but like how I or my friends would.

But maybe that is also because I have been reading her books since I was 17 years old and look through her lens for a lot of things in my life. It would sure explain why I am so naive in friendships, always looking for the purity found in Binchy’s Ireland.

The broken china referenced in the story reminded me of a time when Mickey and I had probably the biggest fight of our relationship, in the middle of the pandemic, where I found myself outside of my home with not much more than some flip flops and my nintendo switch.

I came home. I mean obviously I did, we’re here living the dream at the Professor Haus, right? But things were rough there for a bit, y’all. But the love is there and, even though my brain often doesn’t want me to see it, the love is the stuff I see in Muttie and Lizzie Scarlett’s relationship (we’ll get there later in the year. I love Muttie Scarlett more than most fictional characters).

When I came home, Mickey said something along the lines of, “Do you know the Japanese Art of Kintsugi? Where something precious breaks and then they use gold to put it back together? Maybe that’s what happened here, with us.”

And at that moment, and now, I was reminded of my grandmother sitting at a table in an empty one bedroom apartment, her resolute fist the only thing adorning the blank surface. She left, too.

But, like me, she also went back. Where I had my Snoopy, she had her rescued cabbage patch kids, and papa would take her on missions to find them whenever he got the opportunity. They were repaired stronger than before.

He was a wreck when she died. I can still hear his voice on then phone when he told me. On demand, in loops (thanks to OCD).

So, yeah, that’s what happens with Maeve. She helps me reflect in a way that seems impossible otherwise. She’s been such an important part of my life for the entirety of the adult portion. She’s always constant, she’s always there , I know what I’m gonna feel and-I just remembered- it is one of the things I shared with my Nana, also.

Real full circle moment. Dang.

Saturday, January 6
  • Book: “A Few of the Girls”
  • Story: “Catering for Love”
  • Location: Front porch, twinkle lights on, 32 degrees, very light flurries
  • Playlist: “For All Mankind: Official Playlist”
  • Smoking: a bowl of “dirty little secret” an indica from Goldkine. In Sharpie Butts-A-Lot, of course
  • Did I cry? No!

This was a short, sweet bop of a story about a catering gig. Catering gigs are something I’m familiar with reading from Binchy. They turn up in her books in various ways, from the point of view of the person hiring the catering firm to the pov of the catering firm themselves.

This story was from the POV of a solo-owned catering firm. It was more about the relationship of the woman that hired her. Another theme that pops up in Binchy a lot is relationships that are hiding things from each other – mostly cheating.

At the end of this story, the main thing I took away from it was the way I look at the phrase “Mind your own business”. That is doesn’t only mean to keep your nose out of other people’s business, but also, and probably more importantly – literally mind your business. Focus on it. Keep it on the rails. If the main character in this story had done just that, I doubt she’d have ended up in the situation she did in the future of the story.

Yes, I always like to imagine what happens afterwards. This is true for stories and movies and tv shows, all of it.

This is gonna be a two-story day

my setup
Story 2: “Dusty’s Winter”
  • Playlist and smoking is the same. I ain’t even halfway through my bowl yet! I have, however added a cup of coffee.
  • Did I cry? Yes, when I realized that I learned more about being an adult from Maeve Binchy than I have any other human.

One of the things I love most about Binchy is the way I feel like I’ve always known these characters, no matter how short the story.

This description of a character took my breath away: “He reached out to be loved”. Like, it’s not even a physical description but I feel like I know what this man looks like immediately. But then, when I think about it, this man in the card catalogue of my mind sounds an awful lot like the man I’m living with.

So, yeah, I do a fair bit of projection. But then it also reminded me that, no matter the exterior, at the end of the day we all simply want to be loved and then love back.

Sunday, January 7
  • Book: “A Few of the Girls”
  • Story: “Funny Little Thing”
  • Location: Front porch, twinkle lights on, 36 degrees with 9mph winds
  • Playlist: “For All Mankind: Official Playlist”
  • Did I cry? Yes, but not because of the story, but because of the song that came on. “The Run” by Jeff Russo.

First off, the title of this story is a frequently used phrase in Binchy’s books. Immediately I know this is gonna be a romance story with a successful man who falls in love with someone who is unafraid to go her own way. At one point in the story, he will look at her with affection, perhaps even ruffling her hair, while calling her a “funny little thing”.

Let’s see if I’m right!

Maeve Binchy must have had some sort of negative run in with a fella with his eyes too close together. That is one of the markers of a “bad” person in her books. I should keep a running tally! (that is too much work for my brain to let me do in the way it would need to do it) However, I do recall that most of the “I don’t like him. His eyes are too close together” came from disapproving mothers.

Okay, I’m reading again. I was right, it is a romance. The man, however, is not successful at all.

Maeve used another of her (and my) favorite descriptors. “Hair like a bottle brush”. I mean, that basically means the hair of an old, unwanted, crazy lady, right? I know this is another one I’ll read a lot over this year.

This felt like a more modern Binchy story. I would venture a guess that she wrote it later in life. The man is not so much on a business pedestal, and the woman’s love is shown more with money than sinful sex. It was much more sad, much more bleak and did not end on a happy note.


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