NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The Copper Beech is as soothing as a cup of tea.”—People
In the little Irish town of Shancarrig, the young people carve their initials—and those of their loves—into the copper beech tree in front of the schoolhouse. But not even Father Gunn, the parish priest, who knows most of what goes on behind Shancarrig’s closed doors, or Dr. Jims, the village doctor, who knows all the rest, realize that not everything in the placid village is what it seems.
Unexpected passions and fears are bringing together many lives, such as the sensitive new priest and Miss Ross, the slight, beautiful schoolteacher . . . Leonora, the privileged daughter of the town’s richest family, and Foxy Dunne, whose father did time in jail . . . and Nessa Ryan, whose parents run Ryan’s Hotel, and two very different young men. For now the secrets in Shancarrig’s shadows are starting to be revealed, from innocent vanities and hidden loves to crimes of the heart . . . and even to murder.
Praise for The Copper Beech
“A book with a difference . . . You’ll take it home to lend to your best friend.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Binchy makes you laugh, cry, and care. Her warmth and sympathy render the daily struggles of ordinary people heroic and turn storytelling into art.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“The Copper Beech finds author Maeve Binchy at her Irish storytelling best!”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
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.
Irish family village tale
This seems very likely of the Ireland I have visited, lots of turmoil and family intrigue interspersed with school and church life. All under a giant Copper Beech in the school yard upon which the children engrave their names.
Good, but not her best work
There are times when I just want a good, soothing Maeve Binchy book and this was a perfect curl up and read book. I love how she draws you in and gets you involved with the characters. This book, like some of her others focuses a chapter on each character and how their lives are interweaved. Some of the stories are sad, but inspirational. I've given this book 3 stars as although this was a good read, it wasn't her best work and not up to par with some of her other books. For example, I often will think of the stories or characters long after the book is read. I can't say that about this one and I found the ending to be rather flat.