I'm so sorry to hear the news this morning that Maeve Binchy has passed away. I wrote a short piece about her back in the very early days of Cornflower (when it was just one site), and I think it's fitting to re-publish it here in tribute to a lady who, through her books, has delighted millions; I called the post "Happybrow":
"I've just taken a quick birl around a few websites and alighted on Maeve Binchy's. It's a pity she doesn't write a blog - it would make compulsive reading, I'm sure - but even a few brief words on her 'About' page made me smile. I love Maeve Binchy's books. Her voice is unmistakeable, her warmth palpable and as she is a consummate story-teller, her books are great treats.
Her work is not highbrow, nor is it lowbrow, but it is something we should all have more of and which we could call 'happybrow': unfurrowed by care and dark thoughts, bearing only laughter lines! Literary types might dismiss the idea that it is a legitimate function of books to entertain and uplift readers, but those are two of the reasons I read and I believe them to be valid ones. There are many other writers whose work could have that happy tag (and I intend to post about another such megastar soon) but I've long been a fan of Maeve's so she gets the spotlight today.
We have friends who live near her in Ireland and who kindly drove me past her house just so that I could see it and send appreciative vibes in her direction. Their daughter once wrote to ask her for some information in connection with a school project and she got the most charming and helpful letter in return. I know many writers are similarly pleasant and obliging, but it does bear out what the public persona suggests, and as such restores one's faith that 'nice' and 'normal' can overlap with 'rich' and 'famous'.
So thankyou, Maeve, for the pleasure you give to so many through your writing and your lovely self."