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Nights of Rain and Stars    by Maeve Binchy order for
Nights of Rain and Stars
by Maeve Binchy
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

In Nights of Rain and Stars, Maeve Binchy has again woven individual stories of strangers' lives into an intricate pattern, in which each remnant is needed to complete the whole. There's Elsa, a tall, blond, German TV personality. Thomas is a divorced American professor. Fiona, a Dubliner and a nurse, is running away with Shane, a self-absorbed abuser. And English David has taken leave of domineering parents.

These five foreigners witness a tragedy in a remote Greek village. It pulls them together, and they talk about their backgrounds. Add Vonni, an ex-pat and village resident for over thirty years and Andreas, the restaurant owner who carries his own sorrows, and you have the makings of a book. Most of us could create some sort of story out of these fragments, but Maeve Binchy does more than build a story. She creates characters who could be you or I, and makes us care for them. And she gives them the advice that we might be afraid to give them. For the brief time that these people are together, their lives are laid bare for everyone to see - but most importantly, for themselves to see. And deal with. Binchy gently - and so wisely - offers solutions to their problems and then leaves it to each individual to accept or reject her advice. It is easy to become embroiled with these people, and to care about them.

I have read every one of Binchy's books - from the first, Light a Penny Candle, to the last, Scarlet Feather. She always offers me a vacation from my own life while I wallow in the lives she creates. Her prose is soft and gentle, as I imagine her to be. Her dialogue is finely tuned to flow without hestitation. The only flaw is that her books are too short. They could never be long enough for me. Ms. Binchy, please keep writing.

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