Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy
Pages: 582 (paperback)
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction (kind of)
"Although the rest of the world took no notice, the little group watched them for a moment. Elizabeth, putting her hand up over her eyes as she turned the corner, came out onto the steps leading down into the street. Aisling stood on the steps already. They looked at each other for a long time--probably only seconds, but that can be a long time..."
Scarlet Feather by Maeve BinchyPages: 537 (Paperback)Genre: Contemporary Fiction
"On the radio show they were asking people what kind of New Year's Eve did they really want... Cathy Scarlet smiled grimly as she packed more trays of food into the van. There could hardly be anyone in Ireland who would answer the question by saying that they reallly and truly wanted to spend the night catering a supper party for a mother-in-law... Neil Mitchell was in his car when heard the radio program. It annoyed him greatly. Anyone looking at him from another car would have seen his sharp, handsome face frown... Marcella Malone worked in the beauty salon of Hayward's store. She had everything she wanted. If things worked well she would have an agent and a proper modeling contract, and she would not be working as manicurist in Hayward's by this time next year."
My Review (for both):
Light a Penny Candle:
Elizabeth and Aisling were childhood friends. Where Aisling was bold, Elizabeth was enclosed in a proper shell. Later, Aisling's support brought her Elizabeth through the painful end of her parents' chilly marriage. In return, Elizabeth's friendship helped Aisling endure her own unsatisfying marriage to a raging alcoholic. This is a story of two girls growing up, drifting apart, and coming back together.. It takes us from their childhood to their early thirties.
We are first introduced to Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather as they have newly formed there catering company, "Scarlet Feather." Cathy's mother-in-law disapproves of both Cathy and her new "hobby" and her husband Neil doesn't notice as he is only concerned about his job as a civil rights lawyer. Tom is happy with his new enterprise but his family expects him to follow in his father's footsteps. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Marcella has dreams of her own.
While the concept of both appear simple, and the stories seem predictable, they are anything but. I always find myself picking up a Maeve Binchy novel expecting a light predictable read, and time and time again I am drawn into the characters, amazing writing, and this new world created by this amazing author.
Light a Penny Candle is Maeve Binchy's first novel, while Scarlet Feather is a little more recent. Aisling and Elizabeth in Light a Penny Candle make you proud as they struggle to defeat the odds. It is hard to describe this incredible book because they go through so many stages, but you find yourself right there with them every step of the way. From the first page I was caught up into Scarlett Feather and felt indignant on Cathy's behalf. I'm sure many can identify with her. Tom and Marcella are both so sweet, but steadfast in their goals. I love that.
Essentially both books are so great because I find myself becoming one with the characters. When they experience joy, I was so excited and I felt as if it was my own joy. However, when they faced painful choices and disappointments, I felt much of the same. These are my favorite types of books.
I felt the same connection with Bella in Twilight (but not necessarily the other books in the same series) and Jo in Little Women. Which characters did you find yourself bonding with? Who is your favorite? Did that make make the book that much better for you? Or are characters not as important as the overall setting and storyline?