'Her storytelling ability is second to none' Mail on Sunday
An old copper beech overlooks a school, and witnesses all the hopes and loves, dreams and ambitions of the children who grew up there...
Shancarrig School stands in the shade of a glorious old copper beech whose colours tell the passing of the seasons and the years: a tree that has watched over many lives.
The school mistress keeps a careful eye on the children, each of whom have their own hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future. As the children grow up, and become parents themselves, their stories are entwined in this gloriously nostalgic novel from the No.1 bestselling author.
Binchy ( Circle of Friends ; The Lilac Bus ) is a consummate storyteller with a unique ability to draw readers into her tales of Irish life. Here again she mines sources rich in plot and character to produce a captivating narrative. The eponymous copper beech is a huge tree that shades the tiny schoolhouse in the village of Shancarrig. For generations, graduating pupils have carved their initials on the massive trunk, and the book examines what has become of some of them. Though each of the 10 chapters offers the perspective of a single character, Binchy adroitly indicates the ways in which their lives intersect. Thus, the allegedly stolen jewels that are discovered and stolen again in one early chapter become significant in later chapters. Long after two adulterous characters sneak into a Dublin hotel, it emerges that they were spotted by a small soul from Shancarrig, who passes on the information--with unforeseen consequences. A priest's dalliance with the sweet young schoolteacher is shown to have been been suspected by others in the village. The result is a charming and compelling series of interlocking stories about ordinary people who are given dimension through Binchy's empathetic insight. While this book is more fragmentary in structure than some of her previous novels, it should leave Binchy's fans wholly satisfied. BOMC main selection.