Friday, 2 March 2012

Minding Frankie

Minding Frankie
 Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community.

When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a single father battling demons of his own, Noel can’t do it alone.

Fortunately, he has a competent, caring network of friends, family and neighbors: Lisa, his unlucky-in-love classmate, who moves in with him to help him care for little Frankie around the clock; his American cousin, Emily, always there with a pep talk; the newly retired Dr. Hat, with more time on his hands than he knows what to do with; Dr. Declan and Fiona and their baby son, Frankie’s first friend; and many eager babysitters, including old friends Signora and Aidan and Frankie’s doting grandparents, Josie and Charles.

But not everyone is pleased with the unconventional arrangement, especially a nosy social worker, Moira, who is convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to Noel to persuade her that everyone in town has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie.

How incredibly refreshing it was to read a novel with a happy ending. And it wasn't just the ending that was happy, but the entire story had a lighthearted feel to it that made you feel all gooshy inside. Sure, there were some sad parts - when a few of the characters passed away, or Lisa continued to get bamboozled by her flame, or when Moira's side of the story is unveiled - but throughout it all, the tone remains hopeful.

I especially enjoyed how the author, Maeve Binchy, gave those with major parts (and even some with minor mentions) their own back stories in such a way that helped to turn them from one dimensional  characters into full fledged people; people you wouldn't mind knowing in real life.

She then managed to tie everything and everyone together, so there was never a point throughout the whole novel where I felt as though I had missed something. For me, there were no loose strings - every piece was an instrument that worked together to make a magnificent score.

I write all of this without having read any of Binchy's earlier work. After checking out some of the reviews on, it turns out that this cast of characters has appeared in other stories,. In the minds of other readers, none of them are nearly as fully dimensional in this novel as they were in the other books. Some people also complained that there were loose strings after all - but I still don't see them. Obviously, if they are there, they're not as important to the flow of the whole story as others make them out to be.

Then again, my point of this whole blog isn't to tear a book apart piece by piece, but to share my overall thoughts and feelings about the story as a whole. So though the average rating is only 4.25, I give Minding Frankie a full 5 - if only for the fact that, in the end, it made me feel happy for having experienced it.

And really - isn't that one of the reasons why we read?

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