When Noel learns that his former flame is terminally ill and pregnant with a child she claims is his, he agrees to take care of the baby girl once she's born. Read more...
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When Noel learns that his former flame is terminally ill and pregnant with a child she claims is his, he agrees to take care of the baby girl once she's born. But as a recovering alcoholic whose demons are barely under control, he can't do it alone. Luckily, he has an amazing network of family and friends who are ready to help: love-starved Lisa, who becomes his round-the-clock partner in little Frankie's care; his American cousin and pep-talker Emily; and the many eager babysitters from the neighborhood, including old friends like Signora and Aidan, Dr. Declan and his parents.
The unconventional arrangement works out beautifully--until a nosy social worker becomes convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it's up to everyone in town to persuade her that each of them has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-11-29
- Reviewer: Staff
Bestseller Binchy is a national treasure in her homeland of Ireland, and her latest novel is a perfect illustration of why. Old-fashioned and newfangled are totally compatible in contemporary Dublin, where lonely, hard-drinking slacker Noel Lynch discovers he's about to be a single dad now that the one-night-stand/mother of his child, Stella, is dying. Suddenly, the salt-of-the-earth residents of St. Jarlath's Crescent and Noel's resourceful American cousin, Emily, spring into action to keep Noel sober, fire up his ambitions, appease militant social worker Moira, and help raise baby Frankie. It's a hair-raising, heartwarming juggling act for Noel, his quirky roommate Lisa, do-gooder Emily, and a neighborhood crowded with eccentric characters and adorable pooches—including one with a handsome inheritance. Binchy (Heart and Soul) straddles improbable and possible in her touching saga, and if your mind can't quite wrap itself around St. Jarlath's Crescent, your heart will have no trouble recognizing the landscape. (Mar.)
Binchy's best novel yet
Maeve Binchy has done it again. In Minding Frankie, she assembles a large cast of characters (many of them familiar faces from the close-knit Dublin neighborhood last depicted in Heart and Soul) and deploys them with her characteristic playfulness, effortlessly forming yet another warm tale of individual growth and human community.
Binchy writes about a baby girl born to a dying mother, who names the exact right person among her acquaintances to raise little Frances before she dies. That would be Noel Lynch, a victim of advanced apathy concerning just about everything in his life, which is further complicated by alcoholism. He could indeed be Frankie’s father, but it takes all of dying Stella’s determination to start things in the right direction, and before the story is done, the whole neighborhood bands together to see things done right by Frankie.
Binchy mourns the loss of community in the town, but a desire to work together seems alive and well as the neighbors gather ’round to care for Frankie—and to foil Moira, the rather nasty social worker who threatens to upset the carefully planned arrangements.
Even minor characters feel the jab of Binchy’s wit, like Miss Gorman, a secretary “who had a disapproval rating about almost everything,” and the Italian restaurant owner, who speaks in “carefully maintained broken English.” Ireland may not be what it used to be, but Binchy viably populates a modern version that is almost as heartwarming.
Binchy specializes in exploring human foibles without spelling them out in tiresome detail. Here she adds a 19th novel to a string of successes that take light-hearted looks at real life and always find it worth the effort. There’s a good chance that many readers, like this one, will consider Minding Frankie one of Binchy’s best novels yet.