As a huge Maeve Binchy fan, I must say this hard to find book is not exactly like her others...and its uniqueness made me hesitate to read it. Wrong! It was different from most of her works, but good. No continuous characters like some of her later works, but all of your questions about the characters are indeed answered by the and of book. Enjoyable!
What a delightful read this is! It's the story of the lives of the inhabitants of a tiny Irish village from the 50's onwards, with an emphasis on the pupils of the small village school. The three roomed school is built under the shade of a huge Copper Beech tree on which generations of children have carved their initials. The pupils range from the elite of the village, the Major's daughter, the solicitor's son and the daughter of the hotel owners, to the desperately poor offspring of the town dressmaker and the town drunk, with a few adults thrown in for good measure, such as the spinster who yearns for the young priest, the school teacher couple who can't have children of their own and the hotel owners who are trying to improve their social status. Add to the plot a covered up murder, a randy bachelor and a romantic wife who's looking for some extra spice in her life and it all makes for a good, meaty read which is difficult to put down. Maeve Binchy fans will love it!
This book is non-traditional in its style - it's truly the same story but told several ways focusing on several of the many key players in the small town of Shancarrig. One might think of it as a class reunion in book form. The characters are well-developed and I wanted to know what had happened to each. The only thing lacking was a solid tying up at the end.
I love Maeve Binchy books and am trying to read them all. In this one she chronicles the lives of the townsfolk who are educated at the school that has the huge Copper Beach tree in the front yard. All the initials carved there have a story behind it.
Pleasant, but not as good as her best, July 28, 2006
Reviewer: Zift6 "Zift6" (Molokai, Hawaii, USA) - See all my reviews
Like some of her previous novels, Binchy offers a collection of stories from several different characters living in a small community, anchored by a beginning and end piece to tie them together. The idea is that we get to learn what's going on behind their facades, appreciate why some people seem cold, aloof, etc. This approach was far more effective in "The Evening Class," one of her best books, IMO. In that novel, you really got a sense of how several very different people came together for a shared experience.
In this case, the shared environment is Shancarrig, a one-horse backwater in central Ireland, a place that kids leave as soon as they can to go work in London factories. Like all of Binchy's settings, this one breathes so convincingly that you can picture the entire town in your mind as you read.
These individual stories, while interesting and full of her poignant realism, don't really go anywhere and in some cases seem shallow and forced. They also become somewhat repetitive. But in most cases, I felt like they all needed about 10 more pages to bring some kind of meaningful conclusion.
The ending, which was supposed to tie these threads together, also felt quite artificial and tacked on.
Despite the weaknesses in the overall plot integration, Binchy's style is always engaging. I think she could write a refrigerator manual and make the pages flow like music.
Maeve Binchy has got to be one of my most favorite writers, and this book of hers is everything that I would expect from her. She makes you laugh, cry, and care about the characters in her stories, you become totally wrapped up in them. Her warmth and sympathy make the daily struggles of ordinary people become heroic, and turn storytelling into art. Of course what else could be expected of an Irish lass. After all the Irish are the storytellers of the world.
In this book the Irish town of Shancarrig young people carve their initials - and those of their lovers - into the copper birch 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, realizes that not everything in the placid village is what it seems... Secrets in Shancarrig's shadows are starting to be revealed, from innocent vanities and hidden loves to crimes of the heart and even murder.
Maeve Binchy always tells a good story and this one is no exception. Copper Beech tells the story of a small town in Ireland, Shancarrig. The same span of twenty years or so is covered from the viewpoints of nine different residents of the town. It's fascinating to see how all of their lives are intertwined. The copper beech of the title is a huge tree that stands by the schoolhouse, and it has years worth of history carved into it as it has become tradition for each member of each graduating class to carve something. The residents of Shancarrig and the stories told with the help of the beech tree carvings will find their way into your heart.
In the lush 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 no even Father Guinn, the parish priest, who knows most of what goes on behind Shancarrigsclosed doors, or Dr. Jim s, the village doctor, who knows all the rest realizes that not everything in the placid village is what it seems.
In the close-knit Irish community of Shancarrig, there stands an old copper beech overlooking the schoolhouse. For years, the imposing tree has been both a silent spectator and a staunch supporter of the generations of students who have gone to school in Shancarrig. Eight children once carved their names - and the names of those who they loved - into the bark of the tree, as part of an annual tradition that takes place on the final day of school. And so, the old copper beech has kept the secrets of these former pupils; bearing the etchings of their myriad ambitions and hopeful dreams for the future within its trunk.
These eight children have since become adults and are living their own lives. Yet the schoolhouse in Shancarrig still holds a special place in all of their hearts; as it is the schoolhouse that has shaped them and made them who they are. For each person, their hometown holds such special memories - some memories that are just too personal or private to ever be shared. However, the mighty copper beech has witnessed various declarations of love, hope, and identity - all the youthful dreams of the children who once played beneath its sheltering branches.
Although they live such vastly different lives, these eight dreamers can certainly agree on one thing about the bucolic and peaceful town of Shancarrig: life is dull; some might even say deadly dull. From Ryan's Hotel to Barna Woods, where the gypsies set up their campsites each year, from Nellie Dunn's bustling little sweet shop to Father Gunn's quiet parish church; the pace of life in tiny Shancarrig is placidly uneventful. And the community seems to prefer it that way.
However, for some more passionate souls - such as Nessa Ryan - there must be more to life in Shancarrig than running the family hotel. Yet if Nessa could just peel back the various layers of serenity - if she could see beyond the calm exterior of life in Shancarrig - she would see so much unexpected drama: the schoolhouse's headmistress, Maddy Ross has a secret love; Eddie Barton has developed a surprising friendship with someone through the mail; and Maura Brennan has discovered that she has a curious kinship with a glamorous couple - Mike and Gloria Darcy - recent newcomers to Shancarrig.
In this picturesque little town, where the river runs around the great rock for which the town is named, human life flows along in all its variety. Lives intertwine in much the same way as names crisscross on the trunk of that sturdy copper beech. Yet, from the cottages where Foxy Dunne and his family live in poverty; to the grand house where Leonora 'Leo' Murphy lives; and for the Kellys', who live near the school; as well as the town physician, Dr. Jims Blake, who lives on The Terrace - nothing is as it seems. For now, the secrets that have long been hidden deep in Shancarrig's shadows are being brought back into the light.
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. As I know I have said before, I absolutely love Maeve Binchy as an author. In my opinion, she writes such poignant stories and develops such personable characters that I found myself truly connecting with as I read further along in the book.
I also appreciate that her plots are never just the 'chocolate box' variety - the 'feel good, happily ever after' type plots and stories. Ms. Binchy's stories aren't always wrapped up in a nice, neat little bow. I love her writing style precisely because I find it to be more realistic and true to life. I would definitely give this book an A+!
Carved on the trunk of the mighty copper beech tree that embraces the schoolyard in Shancarrig are declarations of love, hope, and identity--the youthful dreams of the children who studied there. Now grown, yet shaped by their years in the schoolhouse, they lead different lives. The Copper Beech is about eight of thiese dreamers.
My first Mauve Binchy book. It is told in a series of stories from the different points of view in a small Irish town. It covers the years when the town goes from poverty/limited opportunity to relative prosperity. I enjoyed some of the stories very much, the book overall has a kind of muted, understated quality.
By the school house at Shancarrig stands a copper beech, its bark scarred with the names and dreams of the pupils who have grown up under its branches. This tree is the gateway to Maeve Binchey's marvelous portrait of a small Irish Townhouse untroubled surface conceals the passions, rivalries, friendships, ambitions and jealousies beneath.
After reading some of this author's so-so works, I am pleased to announce this one is of better quality than "Silver Wedding" and "Lilac Bus." This is a bunch of short stories of the people who live and grew up in Shancarrig. They all attended school in the village and the school is nestled beneath the shade of a great big copper beech tree. There is a story about the local doctor, the local priest, the schoolteachers, the poor kids and so forth.
Maeve weaves her spell again ~~ all you can do is give into her spell and read about ordinary people living ordinary lives with the occassional surprises and revelations. It's a lovely book to snuggle with by the fire on a blustering cold winter day. And this time, Maeve writes more thoroughly of the characters, not cutting off their stories so abruptly like several of her books have been. You can tell she really thought the characters out and how their stories entwined together like any other villages or towns.
It's a wonderful book to read ~~ I wouldn't hesitate reading this one again!
We read this for a TBR Potluck in my online group, The Reading Cove. It was OK. I think the pacing was a bit disjointed, telling each person in the town's story with each new chapter didn't work that well for me. I'd forget about the people I'd read about in earlier chapters. Some people were more interesting than others, Dr. Jims' part was my favorite. Glad to finally have it off the pile.
In the town of Shancarring, the young people carve their initils-and those of their loves-into the copper beech tree in front of the schoolhouse. But not even Father Gunn, the parish preist, or Dr.Jims, the village doctor, realize that everything is not all ut seems.
The Copper Beech is as soothing as a cup of tea.
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 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.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
The irish town of Shancarrig young people carve their initials and those of their loves into the copper beech tree in front of the schoolhouse. Unexpected passions and fears are bringing together the lives of many, such as the sensitive new priest and Miss Ross the beautiful schoolteacher. Lenora ,the priveledged daughter of the towns richest family and Foxy Dunne whose father did time in the jail,and Nessa Ryan whose parents run Ryans hotel, and two very different young men. for now the secrets in Shancarrig''s shadows are starting to be revealed fomr the innocent vanities and hidden loves to crimes of the heart and even to murder....