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Quentins    by Maeve Binchy order for
by Maeve Binchy
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Need a wonderful present for the book lover on your holiday gift list? Or maybe for someone who's been to Ireland and longs to return? Quentins is the book for you. Maeve Binchey has done it yet again. She's taken a simple concept (stories about relationships between people) and woven it into a book you'll hate to put down. She shares with you a portion of place and time, which you'll wish you really could enter.

Quentins is the name of a restaurant in Dublin - a very successful one, as it turns out. It's filled with the most interesting people, who are yet everyday people like you and me. The storyteller draws us in and make us a part of the scene. You must realize by now, I loved this book. My only criticism of it is that it ended. I have read every one of Maeve Binchy's many novels and now must sadly wait for the next one to appear.

In Quentins, we are re-introduced to some of the people we met in her last book Scarlet Feather. There are Brenda and Patrick Brennen, those wonderful twins Maud and Simon, caterers Cathy and Tom, and a myriad of others. Opening the novel is rather like arriving at a foreign airport expecting to know no one, and being suddenly surrounded by old friends. Ella Brady has an affair with a married man which turns her life upside down. What ensues is a story of love, of friendships and loyalties, of laughter and sadness, and of the human spirit raging at life.

It's an invigorating tale that could be true; a wonderful read. I call Maeve Binchy's novels 'my comfort reads'. I have been fortunate enough to have spent a good deal of time in Ireland, and Dublin once felt like a second home to me. I have again walked its streets in this novel, and only wish that while I was there I had found a restaurant like Quentins, in which to watch the world go by.

Audiobook review by Mary Ann Smyth:

Many years ago, because of his expertise with stage makeup, Lon Chaney was called The Man of a Thousand Faces. Because of her rendering of Maeve Binchy's Quentins, actress Jennifer Wiltsie could easily be called The Woman with a Thousand Voices.

I just finished listening to tapes telling the story of the owners and patrons of a restaurant in Dublin, Ireland. The book itself is enough to cause delight. Binchy creates everyday people and gives them a history that pulls in the reader. Add to this Wiltsie's glorious Dublin accent changing with every character and you have a sure-fire winner.

I listened, entranced by the story that I had already read, and wanted it to go on forever. Then I started listening to the voices Wiltsie narrated and my pleasure doubled. The ten-year-old twins depicted in the book sounded their age, but each with a different inflection. The players each had their own set of problems and the anguish in their voices made their problems mine. I rejoiced in their solutions.

I have had the good fortune to have spent a fair amount of time in Dublin over a span of years and the lilting accent was music to my ears. Absolutely delightful.

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