Tag Archives: Light a Penny Candle

My Favorite Books Blog Hop – Maeve Binchy’s Light a Penny Candle

Welcome to the My Favorite Books Blog Hop! I’m glad you stopped by. Throughout the month of April, we’ll be hearing from bloggers and fellow bibliophiles about a topic we can’t say enough about — books! Old books, new books, fiction, non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is encouraged to participate.

Each Tuesday, I’ll be adding a post about a book that I resonated with me in some way. And I can’t wait to hear from all of you.

A few simple rules:

  1. To participate, scroll down to the bottom, add your name to the list, and grab the link provided. Insert that into the blog post you wish to add.
  2. Make sure the list of attendees is added to your blog post.
  3. Be a good hopper and visit other blogs throughout this event. Be a great hopper and add some comments along the way!

I hope everyone enjoys! Happy Hopping!!

Maeve Binchy’s Light a Penny Candle

They looked at each other for a long time — probably only seconds, but that can be a long time….Maeve Binchy

This week, I’d like to introduce you to Maeve Binchy’s first novel, Light a Penny Candle. Some critics have called it her finest work, although I’d personally say for me it’s a tie with The Glass Lake and Circle of Friends, both of which I enjoy immensely.

Originally published in 1982, the novel takes readers on the journey of two young girls who are forced together thanks to the perils of WWII. Elizabeth White is as timid as it is possible to be. She is totally unprepared for the rough and tumble O’Connor clan and their fiery red-headed daughter, Aisling. Although they are the same age, they are polar opposites in every sense of the word. And yet, the bond that they form is unshakable.

I was born well after WWII ended, but have always had a soft spot for that period of history. This work deftly allows the reader to experience some of the tragedies of war from a unique and often underrepresented point of view, the Irish who hoped to remain neutral during that time.

I’ve often commented on my love of Binchy novels. She is one of my favorite authors. Her command of character development is unrivaled in my humble opinion. There is a realness to the people she writes. You know them. You can see them. They become your friends. These two wonderful characters are no exception.

Through the course of the work, we get to see these two girls grow and mature into confident, determined women. That may be the reason I enjoy this book so much, it’s utterly relatable in almost every aspect. These women suffer the heartbreaks of love, face difficult family circumstances, and struggle to balance work with personal responsibilities. There are tears intermingled with laughter and adventure fraught with painful consequences.

In short, it’s just like real life.

And honestly, like so many other Binchy novels, I didn’t want their story to end. I wanted to see what happened next, what was the next great adventure these two went on together.

I once heard an interview that Binchy gave were she stated that her writing was great to relax with and take to the beach. I believe that’s true. I wouldn’t consider it the hallmark of great literature. And I don’t believe she set out to write such a novel.

What I would consider her novel to be is an in depth snapshot of human nature with all its flaws, insecurities, hopes, and dreams. And that may be the finest aspect of a great storyteller.

Until next week,

Happy Reading!

(Jennifer B. Duffey is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. To download a free copy of her latest novel, The Face in the Mirror, click here.)


RIP Maeve

Today marks four years since the world lost Maeve Binchy. She was one of my favorite writers. I loved picking up one of her novels and delving into the lives of her characters. She could flesh out the minute details of everyday life in a way that was fascinating and totally related to everything I was going through.

In many ways, she provided the greatest inspiration to my writing. She didn’t write characters, she wrote real people. You could see them, hear them, and feel the joy or pain they were going through. It’s a quality I try to emulate. I want my readers to see my characters in as much detail as we can see hers.

With each book, I was transported to the Emerald Isle. I’ve been to the small town Catholic masses and attended the University College of Dublin. I’ve laughed a lot and cried a little along the way. All these adventures without the expense of a plane ticket, lodging, and food. You see, a good writer has the ability to transport the reader into new worlds.

And Maeve was a immensely gifted writer.

I miss not having the opportunity to read about the new adventures of her characters. I miss walking into a book store and picking up her latest novel. I miss the friends I found on the pages of her books.

If you’ve never taken the opportunity to explore her Dublin, I would highly recommend the journey. Personally, I’d start with some of her early works like Light a Penny Candle or The Glass Lake, both personal favorites of mine. From there, you may want to venture to a more modern day Dublin with Quentins, Evening Class, and Tara Road. And don’t miss out on the coming of age classic, Circle of Friends.

RIP Maeve. You’re still missed by legions of devoted readers.