The Return Journey

Maeve Binchy, Author
Maeve Binchy, Author Delacorte Press $16.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-385-31506-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-52513-7
Hardcover - 205 pages - 978-1-56895-610-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 240 pages - 978-0-440-22459-4
Prebound-Glued - 240 pages - 978-0-613-29333-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-45595-3
Paperback - 225 pages - 978-0-385-34179-0
Open Ebook - 100 pages - 978-0-440-33767-6
Paperback - 415 pages - 978-1-4091-0346-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-06560-4
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Not without reason is Binchy (Evening Class; Circle of Friends) most popular for her novels, as this unimpressive collection of short stories linked by the theme of travel-and-learn indicates. Although the time is now and the place usually Dublin, the writing is dated, dependent on such romantic-comedy movie devices as mistaken identity, switched suitcases, confidante becoming lover, the stranger who upsets all the old balances, the surprise presence of Mum at the restaurant of the out-of-the-way hotel intended for a tryst. The most promising of the batch is the title story, a series of letters between a mother who left Ireland and her daughter, the young woman who has gone there to see the village her mother grew up in. The characters here have depth and secrets not immediately apparent. The conflicts between mother and daughter mirror the conflicts the mother has about her homeland. Unfortunately, the remaining 13 stories touch on formulaic generational and gender misunderstandings. The characters are established early, the predictable plot mechanisms uncoil like the proverbial spring and the conclusions are socked home, often in a chirpy manner. (Apr.)
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