Minnie Driver and Saffron Burrows in the 1995 film adaptation of Binchy's bestselling novel Circle of Friends
As twenty somethings are loathe to do, a few weeks ago my friend Jean and I were dissecting our current situations (career, finances and relationships) and prospects for the future over tae. I'm trying to be positive and reflective with whatever hits me nowadays. We both see Maeve Binchy's book as a balm of sorts, as do generations of young Irish women, our mothers too.
Jean reached for her newly acquired kindle and brought my attention to a Binchy quotation she had highlighted in an article she had been reading. As with everything Binchy wrote, there's a sense of imparting wisdom, like a beloved aunt with a girlish heart, passing on her knowledge to make the difficulty of navigating your way through the obstacles of life a bit smoother, finding comfort in the knowledge that someone close to you grappled with similar situations, and came out the other side, warm personality intact.
"Learn to type. Learn to drive. Have fun. Write postcards. (Letters take too long and you won’t do it, a postcard takes two minutes.) Be punctual. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking. They are not thinking about you. Write quickly. (Taking longer doesn't usually make it better.) Get up early. See the world. Call everybody by their first name, from doctors to presidents. Have parties. Don’t agonise. Don’t regret. Don’t fuss. Never brood. Move on. Don’t wait for permission to be happy. Don’t wait for permission to do anything. Make your own life."
Maeve on the set of 'Circle of Friends', 1995. Binchy's international profile increased after her book was adapted into a film.
An ultimate autumn comfort of mine is curling up in my duvet before lights out and reading a chapter of a beloved Maeve Binchy book. I recently picked up a collection of her early short stories Dublin 4 in a charity shop, and read it on the train to Dublin. I lived in Dublin 4 for a time while I was an undergrad at UCD, and all the ups and downs of youthful naivety came flooding back. Her books are all so familiar, its like catching up with a dear friend, and one that has always been there for you.
Maeve Binchy, 2005, by Maeve McCarthy, National Gallery of Ireland (source)