“Whitethorn Woods” by Maeve Binchy

In “Whitethorn Woods”, Maeve Binchy writes about the new Ireland
where bustling commerce has taken the place of sleepy rural towns. But
this collection of short stories goes to the heart of a number of
families in Rossmore where the old beliefs and customs still rule the
day and bring conflict in their wake.

In this particular town exists an old statue in the heart of
Whitethorn Woods, put up in honor of St. Ann and long visited as a
wishing well by people from far and wide, searching for a husband,
longing for a baby, and so on. A new highway is threatened, which
would demolish the beloved statue. The family priest, among others, is
involved . Binchy gives the inside story in her winning, unsentimental
style and we are drawn in to their lives completely .

This Irish writer must be one of the most inventive story-tellers
alive today. Her novels and short stories, written since l982, have
won her the Lifetime Achievement award at the British Book Awards in
l999. A number of them have been adapted for cinema and television.

This book does not tackle the political effects of the European
Union on Ireland. It does not deal in a heavy way with the questions of
faith and religion on people’s lives. In a deft, humorous way it lights
up these questions through characters that you get to know and don’t forget.

Review by Anne McDougall