Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Evening Class

Posted by nliakos on April 21, 2019

by Maeve Binchy (Delacorte 1996)

I love how Maeve Binchy draws the reader into the lives of her various characters, and how she neatly resolves the conflicts and ties everything up neatly at the end. Her novels are not challenging, but they are very satisfying to read.

Evening Class follows Nora O’Donoghue (aka “Signora”), Aidan Dunne, Bill Burke, Kathy and Fran Clarke, Lou Lynch, Connie Kane, Laddy Byrne, and Fiona (and their friends and families) through a year of evening classes in Italian language and culture in a rundown school located in a poor area of Dublin. Nora/Signora, back home in Ireland after living in a Sicilian village for almost 30 years as the mistress of the local restaurateur, is the teacher of the class. Aidan, whose wish to become the principal of Mountainview College has been foiled by a man he despises, is in charge of the class. The others, except for Fiona, are some of the students in the Italian class (she is a friend of Aidan’s adult daughters and girlfriend of Barry, who is in the class). Each of the above characters has his or her own chapter, as is common in Binchy’s novels where she weaves the story of a place through its denizens (as in The Copper Beech), and it’s challenging to keep everybody straight and remember who is who and who knows whom, and in what capacity exactly (particularly since the members of the Italian class all have Italian names in addition to their Irish ones: Guglielmo for Bill, Caterina for Kathy, Luigi for Lou, Constanza for Connie, Lorenzo for Laddy, Bartolomeo for Barry–as do all the other members of the class who do not rate their own chapter). Binchy works in loveless marriages, intellectual disabilities, family secrets of various sorts, love affairs of short and long duration, mobsters, bank fraud, sexual dysfunction, and more, all of which she wraps up neatly by the end of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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