Evening Class by Maeve Binchy

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Evening Class by Maeve Binchy

Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: Evening Class comes highly recommended for all those who like character-based novels with a little more depth than many books more recently published.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: June 2005
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 0752876821

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This is one of my favourite novels by Maeve Binchy. As with much of her work, the setting is Ireland. The main focus of the story is an Italian evening class, set up by a rather disillusioned school teacher, employing an Irish lady who has lived in Sicily for many years. Thirty students gather and become deeply involved in each other's lives.

The book is written from several perspectives, starting with the school teacher, explaining why he is unhappy, and how the idea of the evening class arose. His wife and daughters are introduced, along with some other people who will appear later in the novel.

In the second section we meet Signora, who is to become the Italian teacher. The book goes back to her life in Sicily, her reasons for being there, and why she eventually leaves. Then we follow her as she returns to Ireland, finds somewhere to live, and is eventually persuaded to try her hand at teaching.

The novel continues in this way, changing perspectives in each section, but this is not at all disruptive; instead, each viewpoint adds to the understanding of the story as a whole. I did find the rather large cast-list a bit confusing at times, and couldn't always remember what relationship each one had with the rest, but this wasn't too disturbing. Each chapter starts a way back in a character's life, and ends a little further forward in time than the previous one, so there's a sense of moving forward as well as the ever-increasing knowledge of different people.

I found it very enjoyable. I first read this book eight years ago, and found that re-reading it, I had forgotten almost everything, so was surprised anew by some of the revelations.

Highly recommended to anyone who likes character-based novels with more depth than many average modern books.

Buy Evening Class by Maeve Binchy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Evening Class by Maeve Binchy at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Evening Class by Maeve Binchy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Evening Class by Maeve Binchy at Amazon.com.


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Jacquie Longden said:

I noticed this title - which is one I read a few years ago.

I don't remember all about it, but what stands out in my memory is the humour, and the warmth of it

I thoroughly enjoyed it when I first read it, and am spurred on now to pluck it from the depths of the bookshelf and re-read it!

Regards,

Jacquie


Ruth Price said:

There's something about Maeve Binchy. I feel I should scoff, and dismiss her as writing chit-chat and Mills & Boony but she really is a far superior animal. Although I know I will never learn the secrets of the world from reading her books, she is a great story-teller and a talented observer of people.

I was struck by your comment about how you had forgotten all the twists and turns in Evening Class when you came to read it again. I had a similar experience with Tara Road, which I was planning to give away/sell on eBay as it was a hardback in VGC. However, my puppy got hold of it and chewed the corners, so thought I would read it again before chucking it. I just cannot remember what happens to the main character Ria Lynch, and yet it's not a sign of bad writing. I remember Ria well, just not what happened to her. Binchy somehow casts a storytelling spell on the reader, so you page-turn once, then again, and again.