29/10/2006

Irish Girls About Town (by Maeve Binchy and others(

I picked this up second-hand, spotting the name of Maeve Binchy and thinking it might be a collection of her short stories which I had not previously read.

'Irish Girls About Town' turned out to be short stories by sixteen different authors, all of them Irish women. It was originally sold in aid of Barnardo's. Not a collection to be read at one sitting, but easy enough over a few evenings to settle down and read one or two at a time.

I found the writing quality very mixed. I thoroughly enjoyed the one story by Maeve Binchy, which turned out to be a sort of epilogue to her novel 'Evening Class', which I recently re-read. There were two or three other stories which I felt were well worth reading too. But equally there were three or four which seemed to have little substance: the kind of story I would expect in a garish teenage magazine, the most basic 'girl meets boy and ends up in bed with him' type, with little characterisation and no depth at all.

The rest were of varying quality and interest. Some were predictable but pleasant enough, some were a little bizarre. A day after finishing the book, none of them is particularly memorable. Even glancing down the list of titles, I can only recall about half of them.

Still, it was a pleasant enough diversion for a few evenings, with one or two gems. I'm glad I didn't buy it new (even though Barnardo's would have benefitted if I had) but am pleased to have read Maeve Binchy's.

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