Rating: 4 of 5 stars
In Shancarrig, the copper beech tree stands in front of the local schoolhouse. This tree is the place where school children traditionally carve their initials and those of their loves. Of course there's a story behind each of the names on the trunk of that tree, and this book explores some of the individuals whose lives connected at a particular time in Shancarrig's history. As each new character is introduced we see how lives are intertwined and relationships are formed or broken.
What I like about Maeve Binchy's books is her ability to create characters that become people we care about. Whether we like them or not, Binchy makes them believable. And in writing each individual's story separately in this book, we see each person's point of view and the motivation for his or her behavior. As more people are introduced and we see how they are connected to one another, we also see how the impressions we have about acquaintances may be far off the mark of what's really going on in their lives.
I think Maeve Binchy has a great deal of insight into small town life. She has a knack for illustrating how we can believe we know our neighbors, co-workers, and even our friends so well; however, we never know quite as much as we think we do. While it's true that we may reveal more of ourselves than we realize, it's also true that we manage to hide a great deal as well.
I particularly liked the way Binchy ended The Copper Beech. We live in such a fast paced and often cynical world; it's nice to read a story in which people's differences do not detract from the fact that they care about and do look out for one another.
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