This is the final book that I borrowed from the library in the book club’s Chick Lit month and my first by Maeve Binchy.
Minding Frankie is set in Dublin, amongst the friends and relatives of St Jarlath’s Close. The Lynch family being the centre of most of the story. Charles and Josie Lynch are working class folk, a hotel porter and a biscuit factory worker. Their son, Noel, has a dead-end job in an office and spends most of his time in the local pub.
When Charles’ niece from America, Emily, turns up wanting to see where her alcoholic father came from everyone’s life begins to change, dramatically.
Emily is a dynamo. She integrates herself into the community in no uncertain terms. In a very positive way. When Noel’s life takes a sudden turn for the responsible, she is there behind him and his newly discovered daughter, Frankie. The story expands to include long time neighbours and newly made friends through the arrival of Frankie into the world. It takes in the life and history of the social worker with a bee in her bonnet about Noel’s ability to look after his daughter as well.
The writing style was very easy. And the book passed quickly for being 400 plus pages. It was all too easy to compare this book with those of Marian Keyes. Both authors are Irish, of course. The main difference is in tone. Marian Keyes’ Walsh family are often something of a caricature while Maeve Binchy’s felt, while a little larger than life in some areas, far more normal. For want of a better way of describing it, Marian Keyes’ writing style is edgier, more cutting. The humour and pain of the characters is amplified and made sharper. If you are looking for a softer version with similar themes, then Maeve Binchy is your woman.
This particular book held my attention, then let it go, then held it, then let it go. I spent most of the book wondering would Noel get to keep Frankie, would he lose her into care? Would Lisa, another extra in Frankie’s world, end up with a proper relationship with her boyfriend, or not? And so on.
I wasn’t all that enamoured with the ending. Three of the four main threads worked out in a positive manner, while one did not quite. In fact, one ending was slightly surprising relative to the amount of story leading up to it, while another one was a bit fantastical.
I’m not sure that I can really recommend it, but if you like Marian Keyes it may appeal although it isn’t as full of humour or edgy drama queen style characters. By the end, while drawn in to the lives of the characters, I was ready to be done. And if you asked me to discuss it in any detail I would probably fail to. It just wasn’t that memorable.