This is the first book I’ve read of Maeve Binchy’s, and while it isn’t her first or her most recent, I thoroughly enjoyed it – enough to put a few more on my hold list at the library. Each chapter is told from the perspective of someone involved in Aiden Dunne’s recent undertaking – an evening Italian for Beginners class at a local school. Aiden has taught at the school for many years, and believes he is a shoe-in for becoming the next principal. When his aspirations are dashed as he watches a slicker teacher he dislikes get the position, Aiden is placated by being given his other dream – an evening class for the otherwise rundown school. Binchy has a way with characters, making them all likeable and yet realistic at the same time. Nothing seems prescribed. One gets the feeling that Binchy would have been warm woman to meet – the kind you would like to have a standing weekly coffee date with, just so her positivity rubs off on you. In this novel, the individual stories of the characters become wound around one another, so that by the end, you have been given the last few months of each person’s life and are caught up with everyone. Binchy’s writing makes you realize that everyone you meet has a story to tell, no matter how mundane it might look from the outside; and that a community can be created in the unlikeliest of places.
Evening Class by Maeve Binchy