Wednesday, January 9

Book Review: Whitethorn Woods

Title: Whitethorn Woods

Author: Maeve Binchy

Pages: 449

Summary: Everything is changing in Rossmore. No longer a sleepy Irish town, nowadays it’s a prosperous place, so busy that a new bypass has been proposed.

The people of Rossmore are divided, particularly since the road will go right through the Whitethorn Woods and the well dedicated to St Ann - a well thought by some to have spiritual properties, and by others dismissed as a superstition. Well-meaning curate Father Brian Flynn has no idea which faction to support. Neddy Nolan is being offered compensation for his land - but has a personal reason to save the well. Then there’s the childless London woman who came to Whitethorn Woods, begging the saint for help, with the most unexpected consequences . . .

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I found this to be a very enjoyable read. Her characters really make the book, and I think the author wove them all into the overall story well. After reading the book, it has me looking forward to the next book by the author.

The book wasn't like the traditional novel. In fact I would classify it more as a collection of interconnected short stories, than a novel. As a novel, the book just doesn't work, there's just a bunch of threads pulling on the plot and not much else. But as a collection of short stories, it was a great story (or stories) of a cast of characters, and their individual stories, all with a common theme of Rossmore and Whitethorn Woods. Each short story, or chapter, where broken down in two parts, told by two characters connected to each other in some way (friends, lovers, mother/daughter). What I really liked was how the stories were told from two different perspectives, and the twists the story as a whole would take individually, and as a whole, once you read both perspectives. Some of the chapters took a rather surprising twist, which shocked me. Others highlighted the beauty of friendship and companionship. I also appreciated how the author linked the chapters together by subtle mentions, of previous characters and what happened to them. Chapters four, five and nine, were some of my favourites, for how the characters lives and stories were portrayed, along with some of the twists the author threw in. And for some the twists, they were really good.

The main story line was told in three parts which I also enjoyed. Neddy was an extremely well done, and underestimated character when you first meet him. He has a lot of heart to him, and I was beginning to enjoy him by the end, it was a shame his story (and the book) ended when it did.

One of the best aspects of Binchy, is her ability to create such complex characters, who even the more, unsavoury ones, you seem to really enjoy reading about, and this book was no exception.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a very enjoyable read. It was a book you can curl up with on the weekend and lose yourself in. It may not be the best read if you haven't read the author yet, but it does show her writing talents and storytelling ability.

What to read next: Circle of Friends

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Ireland Reading Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Read-A-Latte Challenge


  1. I love this author but this was my least favorite of her books so far - but maybe because I was hoping for a novel instead of interconnected short stories. have you read her Quentins's books? Those are my favorite!

    1. I have Quentins on my shelf. In fact I was having a debate between Quentins and this one on which one to read when I did read it. This one won out because it was on my shelf longer. It looks like Quentins has a Signora in it, and if I'm not mistaken, she was in Evening Class as well. So Quentins may be my next read by the author.

  2. I have never read anything by Binchy, and may have to give this one a look. It reminds me a little of Olive Kitteridge, the way that it is more of a loosely connected set of stories rather than a novel, and your review has piqued my curiosity very much! Well done, Jules! I need to check this one out!!

    1. I think you would really enjoy the author, and highly recommend her to you. So make sure you check something by her! I never knew that about Olive Kitteridge. Which has been on my shelf for ages too. So I'll have to take a look.