From the New York Times bestselling author of Circle of Friends and The Glass Lake comes This Year It Will Be Different, a stunning new work that brings us the magic and spirit of Christmas in fifteen stories filled with Maeve Binchy's trademark wit, charm, and sheer storytelling genius. Instead of nostalgia, Binchy evokes contemporary life; instead of Christmas homilies, she offers truth; and instead of sugarplums, she brings us the nourishment of holidays that precipitate change, growth, and new beginnings.In "A Typical Irish Christmas," a grieving New York widower heads for a holiday in Ireland and finds an unexpected destination not just for himself, but for a father and daughter at odds. The title story "This Year It Will Be Different" also delves into the emotions of a person at mid-life--a woman with a complacent husband and grown children who are entering a season that can forever alter her life, and theirs. In "Pulling Together," a teacher not yet out of her twenties sees her affair with a married man at a turning point as Christmas Eve approaches--and she may be off on a new direction with some unusual friends. And in the delightful tale "The Hard Core," the four most recalcitrant residents of a nursing home are left alone at Christmas with the owner's daughter in charge: the result is sure to be disaster--or the kind of life-affirming renewal that only the spirit of the season can bring.The stories in This Year It Will Be Different powerfully evoke many lives--step-families grappling with ex's, long-married couples faced with in-law problems, a wandering husband choosing between "the other woman" and his wife, a child caught in grown-up tugs-of-war--during the one holiday when feelings cannot be easily hidden. The time of year may be magical, imbued with meaning. But the situations are universal. And Maeve Binchy makes us care about them all. As the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, "Maeve Binchy's people come to life fully. They make you laugh and cry and disturb your sleep." They do precisely that in this extraordinary collection, on the night before Christmas when we are snug in our beds, or anywhere, any time of the year.From the Hardcover edition.
Each of us could tell tales of at least 15 Christmases we or others have celebrated. We have been overjoyed or disappointed, alone or with family, loved ones, or friends, done all of the work to prepare for the holiday, some of the work, or none of the work, spent the season with people who make the days wonderful, frustrating or unbearable, celebrated with all of our hearts, or tried our best to ignore Christmas. In the real world, Christmas more often than not, isn't ideal. Maeve Binchy, the Irish author with millions of appreciative readers, has written a collection of stories which embraces the wide range of way Christmas touches people's lives. She doesn't present Christmas as a cure-all for her character's problems, but these stories do take into account that sometimes Christmas inspires people to do a little better, try a little harder and be a little kinder. Here is a sampling of the 15 short stories Binchy has written with insight, humor, sympathy and hope. After years of taking her exhausting Christmas preparations for granted, a woman thinks her family, are going to change their lazy ways. Though they continue to expect the world of her, she may have found a way to get their attention and motivate them to do more for her. A lonely teacher believes she has found love at last, at Christmas, but when he's unwrapped, he turns out not to be the gift she wanted. Another couple meet and fall in love at the fish market buying fish for Christmas dinner. After years of determination to snipe at and remain aloof from her stepmother, a teenager softens when she comes home from school and sees her room decorated for Christmas. A widow's loving grown children take the worry out of Christmas for there mother, and discover that without the fussing and worrying she doesn't have the heart to celebrate. On a long flight to Australia lonely strangers become friends as they nervously wonder if they'll be welcomed by their adult children. All through a Christmas visit a couple remain tolerant of the nasty remarks of an always critical mother until when it's almost time to leave, tempers boil over. A woman is reassured by tests in magazines and newspapers that her married lover is right for her until she takes a test on Christmas Day without him while he's with his family, with results that guarantee next Christmas will be different.
After many happy years of marriage and raising a family, Brian and Kathleen suddenly find themselves a bit lost in life. Midwesterners who've never traveled, Kathleen decides that what she and Brian need is a vacation, and with the help of an enthusiastic travel agent she plans a trip to Ireland in search of her roots. In beautiful, quaint Lisdoonvarna, to the couple's surprise, they find themselves in the midst of a joyous yearly gathering dedicated to celebrating the life and work of a late Irish poet, and they rediscover something much more important than evidence of long-dead ancestors: their love for each other and for life itself.
Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know one another. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Chicky is finally ready to welcome the first guests to Stone House's big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. John, the American movie star, thinks he has arrived incognito; Winnie and Lillian are forced into taking a holiday together; Nicola and Henry, husband and wife, have been shaken by seeing too much death practicing medicine; Anders hates his father's business, but has a real talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired schoolteacher, criticizes everything and leaves a day early, much to everyone's relief; the Walls are disappointed to have won this second-prize holiday in a contest where first prize was Paris; and Freda, the librarian, is afraid of her own psychic visions. Sharing a week with this unlikely cast of characters is pure joy, full of Maeve's trademark warmth and humor. Once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.
The town of Rossmore is a special place, full of character charm. Nestled beside the Whitethorn Wood, the town has grown since the days when it was small and friendly and everyone knew everyone else; now it has chain stories and traffic problems and housing estates. But still, there is the Whitethorn Wood, full of spiky bushes and criss-crossed with paths; and there's St Ann's Well, where generations have come to pray or make wishes or just to look back at the pretty little town. Which is why there is going to be such a fuss about the plans for the new motorway. It's going to by-pass Rossmore, cutting through the Whitethorn Wood and endangering the well itself. The new road will bring jobs and relieve traffic in the town; for others, it will destroy businesses and leave the town a backwater. The people of Rossmore are divided. There is a lot of land standing in the way of the great road of progress. Quite by accident the decision rests on Neddy Nolan - the most honest man in Rossmore. A man determined to do the right thing.
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