International tributes roll in for writer for whom 'life was all about laughter'


INTERNATIONAL MEDIA outlets offered warm tributes to the late Maeve Binchy yesterday describing her as a publishing phenomenon who had captured small-town Irish life and delivered it to a global audience.

“Big, funny and warm, Maeve Binchy was the living embodiment of the novels that made her one of the world’s top-selling authors,” the Daily Telegraph said.

“The appeal of Maeve Binchy’s writing lay in strong characterisation, good storytelling and heart-warming evocations of a cosy world in which good triumphs and community spirit always prevails.”

An Associated Press article published by the New York Times noted that Binchy’s book Tara Road had helped to open her writings to a new audience after it was selected by US talk show host Oprah Winfrey to appear in her popular book club.

The report also explained that when Binchy announced in an Irish Times column in 2000 that Scarlet Feather would be her last novel, the news prompted more than 800 people to write to this newspaper in protest.

Alison Flood wrote on the Guardian Books Blog that Binchy, along with Stephen King, had bridged the gap between her childhood and adult reading.

“What I loved about her books was their big-heartedness, their friendliness – the way you could sink into them and emerge, hours later, still half in the world of a small Irish village,” she said.

“The stories delved into family relationships, love and loss and friendship; into the human dramas and mistakes and romances of characters who weren’t so very different from me. That makes them sound a little saccharine: they weren’t at all.”

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade, separately, described Binchy as “warm and witty and wonderful company” and “the very opposite of what people expect a journalist to be like”.

“There was a total absence of malice in Maeve. She loved people and, in return, they loved her. For her, life was all about laughter,” he said.

The BBC cited a 2001 interview with the author which followed her success in winning the WHSmith Book Award for fiction.

In the interview, Binchy spoke of the five rejections she received for her first novel as being “a slap in the face” but that she was glad she had persevered.

“It’s like if you don’t go to a dance you can never be rejected but you’ll never get to dance either,” she said.

One of the secrets of her success was writing in the way she spoke: “You don’t wear all your jewellery at once,” she explained. “You’re much more believable if you talk in your own voice.”