When American millionaire Patrick O'Neill returns to his ancestral home in Ireland, his intent is to bring prosperity to Montfern in the form of a luxury hotel built from the ruins of an old estate. Instead, the villagers see their lifestyles irrevocably changed and the town's inner harmonies disrupted in the four years it takes to build O'Neill's hotel. Binchy ( Light a Penny Candle , LJ 2/15/83) offers vital, complex characters, from John and Kate Ryan, whose pub will be threatened by the new hotel, to Miss Barry, the canon's alcoholic housekeeper. These people live in all their quirky individualism and will remain with the reader long after the book is completed. Accolades. Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.
Binchy's latest novel (after Light a Penny Candle ) is set in the tiny Irish backwater of Mountfern, home to a handful of families and typical of hundreds of similar hamlets in the British Isles where life is lived to the rhythm of the seasons. Mountfern is the ancestral home of Patrick O`Neill, a rough, rich American whose wealth comes from bars and restaurants, and whose dream is to build a grand hotel in Mountfern. The consequences of Patrick's arrival there early in the '60s are often hilarious: the local aristocracyespecially the widows and spinstersvies for his attentions, while the villagers are beguiled by his largesse and by thoughts of the prosperity the hotel will bring. But tragedy strikes when a bulldozer working on the hotel site crushes Kate Ryan's spine; her adaptation to life in a wheelchair is brave and touching. Kate (Binchy's most splendid character) and her husband own a pub that is bound to suffer when the hotel opens. Other charactersall memorably portrayedcome to be resentful of the ``Yank's'' money while they reveal their own cupidity. Patrick's joy at his homecoming is slowly eroded, and his teenage son Kerry breaks hearts, including his father's. Binchy's lyrical prose has a lilt and musicality that makes it a joy to read. With a strong narrative drive that never flags, the story engages all the reader's emotions. (September)