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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Review: Maeve Binchy - Light A Penny Candle


Whenever I want a read that's light and uncomplicated, Maeve Binchy is one of the authors that I go to.

That's why I am pretty surprised that Light A Penny Candle was actually her very first novel, because unlike the first few books of hers that I've read, Tara Road, Night of Rain and Stars and Scarlet Feather, this one is the most complex, the most expansive and the most interesting.

The time span is also one of the longest, beginning with two female characters who were just children when World War II started, to the point in the ending when they were almost in their 30s, with failed marriages in the late 1950s.

The study in contrasts is also interesting since one of the girls was English, and the other one Irish - one was Catholic and the other one was Protestant. One is from London, one is from the rural part of Ireland.

Also, it's pretty rare for novelists to dwell too much on Catholic practices, but it's one of Maeve Binchy's trademarks - and she doesn't shy away from it.

Light a Penny Candle is a tradition for Catholics - and many Filipinos do it. In the Philippines, it's more like Light a Five Peso Candle since that's how much each candle is worth - but the idea behind the practice is the same - to pray so that a wish comes true.

A lot of things happen in this story and there are a lot of interesting characters to keep the reader busy. Like most of the readers, I do find the ending too abrupt and too bizarre and a bit out of character and theme but it does shake things up a bit. You'd never find a similar ending in any of her others novels as well.

It is probably her longest novel but I had a hard time putting it down.

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