by Maeve Binchy (2006); narrated by Sile Bermingham with Paul Michael
I love how Maeve Binchy creates a community of intertwined characters until by the end of the book the reader feels almost as if he/she were a part of the community. The first book I read in this style was The Copper Beech, which is still one of my favorites. Whitethorn Woods is a compendium of linked short stories told from the points of view of two characters who are connected in some way. For example, Neddie Nolan, mildly retarded son of Marty Nolan, narrates how he went to London with his good-for-nothing brother Kit to work “on the buildings” and ended up becoming the “manager” for Kit and his friends–for Kit, something like a maid-of-all-work, but in Neddie’s view the one who organized the lives of the others while putting by enough money to return to Rossmore in Ireland (the place which ties all the stories together), where he eventually meets and marries the lovely, smart Claire–who then narrates the story from her point of view. The whole book is like that, each story a piece in the mosaic that is Rossmore. There is treachery and kindness, abuse and forgiveness, adultery and deep love, despair and hope, all tied up neatly at the end in a very satisfying way.