by Maeve Binchy
Ria and Danny Lynch live the good life on Tara Road in Dublin, Ireland. They live in a large house on an upscale street. They have two children. All’s right with the world – until wonderful Danny wants a divorce.
Marilyn Vine lives across the pond. She, too, enjoys a comfortable lifestyle, a large home with swimming pool, loving family, and success, until her son is killed in a tragic accident.
The two women, strangers at first, agree to swap houses for a summer, the swap creating a kind of renewal for each. As it turns out, the two women not only swap houses, but they swap lives, as well. Each settles in with the other’s friends. Ultimately Ria and Marilyn become best friends forever.
Over 650 pages, the story unfolds in real time; I grew old right alongside them. It went on and on. There was nothing truly remarkable about any of the characters (save Jack Ryan). They lead ordinary lives in ordinary times. The book reads like it wants to be a soap opera, but it falls short.
Dialogue is simple. Vocabulary is even simpler. The author, with all her words, fails to create mood and atmosphere and so instead must tell the reader when someone is happy, sad, excited, worried, and so on.
The characters are well developed though, all except Jack Ryan. He is a drunkard and a wife abuser. There might be the story. However, his role remains in the background and although we are told that much, we do not feel his pain (or hers). When he dies in a car accident, we do not feel sad, or glad, or anything.
Easy reading. No thinking required.