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~Tara Road~

by Maeve Binchy

      Heroines: Varied

    Ria Lynch, wife of a fast-track Dublin real estate agent, and Marilyn Vine, American college administrator, have never met yet will make a profound difference in each other's lives.  Both are suffering silently through crises of the heart. Both are desperate to escape their pain.

     Marilyn contacts Ria in the hopes of asking her well-connected husband for information about residential exchanges between Ireland and the USA.  One thing leads to another and the women decide to swap homes with each other for the summer.

       Each makes her escape to a picture-perfect home across the sea, and each woman soon discovers that nothing is quite as it seems, that those impeccable houses hide a wealth of dark secrets.

      What worked for me:

    It was very interesting seeing situations through the eyes of so many of the players (and there were many in this story.)  Yes, it added a lot of length to an already long book, but had some value in letting the reader see what a tangled web life was for those people.

     Size-wise the women were all very different.  But Ria, the character who was on center stage most of the time, sounded to be at the round end of average, particularly by the time she's been married for several years, has had two kids, and become the stereotypical frumpy hausfrau.

What didn't work for me:    

      The story was very long, particularly the first half which took forever building up the history of the characters.  But once you reach the midpoint and the two ladies swap homes, the story just flies from there.  (I was up until 2 am trying to find out how it all turns out.)

       Some of the characters were fairly strong, but others were rather wispy and less-than-genuine and ended up taking away from the depth of the story.

     And though it may have felt trite in places, I have to confess to shedding a tear or two when things got rough for the ladies.


     "Tara Road" is an epic saga about friendship, loss, and betrayal, and worth picking up if you can tough out the first half of the book.  (Look for an abridged or audio cassette version if you can.)

If you liked "Tara Road" you might also enjoy: "Circle of Friends", "Last Chance Saloon", and "The Saving Graces".

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