Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
A Maeve Binchy novel, any Maeve Binchy novel, must be the quintessential summer read. Her stories bring together a large cast of characters and interweave their assorted lives, moving along smoothly to a satisfying conclusion. There is just enough complexity to hold the reader’s interest without bogging you down. If you are a faithful Maeve Binchy reader, you will recognise some of the characters, who are carried forward from earlier novels and find bit parts in later books. However, even if you are starting from scratch, you will enjoy meeting Binchy’s cast.
I have just sampled a few of Binchy’s books. Minding Frankie wasn’t my favorite of these. I preferred Evening Class. However, it is a typical Binchy book and a comfortable read. At the centre of the story is thirty-something Noel. He hasn’t made the best go of life. He lives with his parents, works at a boring, dead-end job and has slipped into alcoholism. Everything in his life changes when a dying girl, a one-night stand that he barely remembers, contacts him. Noel is about to become a single father. The new baby, Frances, or Frankie, touches many lives as the neighbourhood comes together to support Noel in his effort to reform and build a better life for himself and his baby girl.
There’s not a lot of depth here, but it is pleasant, easy read, perfect for idle summer days.