TITLE: MINDING FRANKIE
AUTHOR: MAEVE BINCHY
There was a time when I couldn't wait for a new book by Maeve Binchy, and would rush out to buy a copy as soon as a new title was published. Then, more recently I was a bit disappointed with her books either because it wasn't really a novel, more a collection of short stories, or because the sole purpose of the book appeared to be giving earlier characters another outing.
This book has a good few characters from earlier books making a reappearance once again, but this time it worked for me because they showed up in a completely new story with enough new characters to give the book a fresh feel.
This is the story of Frankie, a little girl whose mother dies the moment she is born. Because Stella, Frankie's mother, knew this would happen she's made a point of contacting Noel, a troubled young man with a problem with alcohol and a life that is going nowhere, and told him that he's the baby's father.
Suddenly Noel finds himself in a position where he has to change himself and his life completely if he's going to be a dependable father. With the help of his American cousin, Emily, who has recently arrived in Ireland, and Lisa, a girl with several issues of her own and a lot of other people in his community, Noel manages to kick his dependency on alcohol, improve his job prospects and be a loving, good and reliable father. All of this notwithstanding attempts by Moira, Frankie's social worker, who is convinced that it's only a matter of time before Noel will mess up and Frankie will have to be placed elsewhere.
This is definitely a feel good book, although there are a few very sad moments as well. It's life in a community where we would all love to live, filled with people we would all love to call our friends. This is an easy, comfortable and comforting read. This is Binchy almost completely back to her old writing powers.