From Publishers Weekly
A proposed highway near the Irish town of Rossmore will mean the destruction of St. Ann's Well, a shrine in Whitethorn Woods thought to deliver healing, husbands and other miracles. The shrine resides in the parish of Fr. Brian Flynn, curate of St. Augustine's. As a fracas erupts between shrine skeptics who want the highway and shrine believers who want the shrine preserved, Flynn, unsure of where he stands on the issue and questioning his place in an increasingly secular Ireland, goes to the shrine and prays that he might "hear the voices that have come to you and know who these people are." Binchy (Tara Road
) goes on to deliver just that: a panoply of prosaic but richly drawn first-person characters, such as Neddy Nolan, a not-so-simple simpleton; 60-something Vera, who finds love on a singles trip meant for those much younger; and unassuming antiques magnate James, whose wife of 26 years is dying. Stories of greed, infidelity, mental illness, incest, the joys of being single, the struggles of modern career women, alcoholism, and the heartbreak of parenting span generations, simply and poignantly. Binchy takes it all in and orchestrates the whole masterfully. 400,000 announced first printing
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Nestled outside the once sleepy Irish village of Rossmore in a copse known as Whitethorn Woods is the shrine of St. Ann's Well, which attracts so many of the faithful and hopeful that the little town overflows with visitors. This prompts a controversial proposal to construct a bypass highway that would divert traffic, ironically, right through the Woods, thus destroying the source of the town's popularity. Worried that the shrine's days are numbered, villagers flock to the Well, where they plead for everything from the restoration of a faltering love affair to the recognition of an ancestor's legacy. Foregoing her trademark plot-driven narrative for a tale in which the outcome is predictable (will the shrine be saved? duh!), Binchy instead focuses her prodigious talent on a robust assemblage of characters embroiled in romantic and domestic crises. Inventively and intricately weaving a series of linked vignettes, Binchy astounds with the versatility of the supplicants' voices, from the diabolical machinations of a mother whose daughter has committed murder to the sad serenity of another whose child was kidnapped decades earlier. Binchy is at her best in this tender yet potent tale of a traditional land and people threatened and challenged by the forces of change. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved