I was introduced to Maeve Binchy's books in my early twenties by my sister, an avid reader. We lived in different states and would read the same books and connect through the lives of the characters.
As with all of Maeve Binchy's books the feeling of kinship the reader feels with the characters is palpable and real. When the books end a sense of loss is always near. Scarlet Feather is for anyone who connects with the characters in a book in just that way. A reader who enjoys letting themselves get carried away in a book will love Scarlet Feather.
Most of Binchy's books take place in her native Ireland. Scarlet Feather takes place in Dublin and follows the lives of two people starting a catering company through an entire year. It begins on New Year's Eve and ends the following December. A lot can happen in the course of a year and in Scarlet Feather, a lot does.
All of Maeve Binchy's book are told through a very chatty viewpoint. You feel as though you are sitting listening to an old friend tell stories of her hometown while you read her books. Scarlet Feather was one of my favorite books to read because she brought to life two of my favorite characters: Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather. They continue to play out their lives in the books Quentins and Tara Road. As you read Scarlet Feather you feel an instant camaraderie with Cathy Scarlet who is married to Neil, a top human rights lawyer devoted to his work to the point of distraction. You bond with her in her annoyance at her mother in law who is an upper class snob and looks down on "Poor Cathy." Cathy came from a poor but loving home and has a deep sense of pride which wins the readers over and has you cheering her on through the entire book.
As the lives of the characters unfold you realize that the upper class condescension is a curtain that hides turmoil and dysfunction. We see the true quality of Cathy's parents as they care for Neil's niece and nephew, a hilarious set of twins who steal the show occasionally. Through these relationships Cathy's mother in law is taught the lesson that "people who live in glass houses should not throw stones."
Maeve Binchy's ability to tell a story and make you feel part of her circle of friends is amazing. She lives in Dalkey, Ireland with her husband Gordon Snell and continues to write bestsellers. I am sure that reading Scarlet Feather will set you on a path of reading all of her books, including but not limited to Circle of Friends, Light a Penny Candle and of course Quentins and Tara Road.
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