Thursday, 2 August 2012


She was great, she was lovely, she was the least pretentious author in the business of books.

I remember when I was in Ireland about 10 years ago, there to do a book signing tour, my Irish publisher told me that a number of radio stations wanted to interview me. I went into meltdown - terrified - knowing I would be so nervous I would probably babble away non-stop and go way off the focus and the topic of the question,  and ultimately make a hash of it all.

Then later that night, I saw Maeve Binchy as a guest on The Late, Late Show ... Ah, Maeve Binchy I thought, if only I was like her I would be able to face all interviews with utter confidence and panache; after all, at that time Maeve had sold tens of millions of books and was a literary Irish treasure.
So finally, on the show, Gay Byrne gave her a great introduction and Maeve came on and took her seat, all in a fluster.
Gay asked her a question about her latest book and Maeve responded by babbling on and on about the driving test she had just taken that day. He eventually attempted to interrupt her and bring the subject back to her book but no, Maeve was still in a fluster, assuring him she was fine now because she had prayed before the driving test to St Jude - and as everyone knows, Maeve informed him, St Jude was the patron saint of all things wanted and needed that appeared to be `impossible' to achieve on one's own.
From then on, she was just a joy to watch, to listen to - a real and lovely woman who had never bothered to learn how to act like a celebrity.  

My home is full of her books, lovely, long, gossipy books filled with real people in real situations that every woman can relate to. Of course, as well as being a lovely person, Maeve was also as tough as old leather boots - that's why her characters were so down to earth and real - Maeve never put any frilly sweet icing on her creative cakes.

It's sad to think now that she has left us. Ireland will miss her, because Ireland and all the Irish were so proud of her.

But she has left behind a library of good books for us to read, and re-read again and again, because reading a Maeve Binchy book is like sitting down and relaxing with a good friend.

God bless you, Maeve. As long as we have your books, you will always be with us.