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My mom and sister and I refer to this as the smell the milk book Sometimes you open the fridge and wonder what that horrible smell is, and you open the milk bottle and nearly pass out But it s so bad someone else HAS to experience it to, so you ask whoever s nearby to smell the milk, too.I picked this book up in a grocery store in Shannon, Ireland I was hoping for a fun, light read during my vacation It was fun and sort of light, but not in the way I expected.I ve truly enjoyed some of Ms Binchy s other novels especially Circle of Friends but this one Oh, the badness Binchy skipped right over cozy chicklit and went straight to soap opera drama The characters didn t talk or act like real people Ridiculous characters and events were thrown in like Binchy was cleaning out her fridge and making soup with the contents.I finished it before the trip ended, so my mom decided to read the book on the flight home She d read passages out loud to me and we d laugh Later, I told my sister about how awful it was, she loves Binchy s earlier work, too and she had to read to see just how bad it was Honestly, I d give it zero stars, but I got a lot of entertainment out of this book, and it remains on my bookshelf as a testimony to fun conversations with my family Tara Road gets two stars for making me laugh. Binchy is one of my favorite authors and I think this is my favorite of her books Great for a vacation read She always wraps her stories up in nice little bows at the end, which may not generally be what would happen in reality, but I think that s why I like it she s good at reminding people that things always work out in the end Also, she has really strong female characters, or ones who start out weak but find strength, usually through other great women characters, which is always something I appreciate. Ria lives in Dublin, Ireland, in a beautiful, Victorian house surrounded by loving family and friends She has great kids and is happily married or at least she thinks so to hotshot estate agent, Danny Lynch But the day comes when Danny suddenly drops a bomb onto Ria s happily ever after He is leaving her for a young girl, whom he also got pregnant Ria s world is completely shattered and she does not really know how to cope with it all, when a chance phone call from America starts her on an unexpected journey.The caller is Marilyn Vine, from New England, who wants to visit Ireland and is in need of accommodation She is eager to escape her home where memories seems to suffocate her Her only, teenage, son died in a motor crash and she is unable to forgive herself or even to communicate about it with anyone On an impulse the two women agree to swap houses for the summer setting a series of events into motion that none of them can foresee and that will change their lives forever Tara Road has been a favourite book for a long time It has all the elements that make stories by Maeve Binchy an ultimate, heart warming reading experience.She wrote about people to people with so much sympathy, understanding and acceptance of the human heart and mind that never ceases to amaze and delight me.She also perfectly knew while acknowledging and writing about all that sadness and unhappiness that people cause by letting each other down all the time that there is a need for stories that turn out well or where there is at least hope for the future And she did write them all right Tara Road, Circle of Friends, Scarlet Feather, The Glass Lake Evening Class or Quentins are all there to prove it.All of them are highly recommended. It turns out Tara Road wasn t a re read, I think Quentins is the one I am after This was typical Maeve fair Family, relationships, infidelity, supporting those in your community Ria is a young wholesome woman who meets Danny Lynch and this is the relationship we watch as children come and the building and renovation of a lovely home on Tara Road This home is always bustling with the various characters that come and go Ria and Marilyn perform an unlikely house swap for three months over the summer, Ria in Ireland and Marilyn in America, when both women reach a cross road in their lives.With an ensemble cast of characters, this makes for a delightful, homely feeling read Maeve fans will love this one, as I did. The reason I like this book is very complicated, but you ll love it This is definitely a chick lit book about a woman who lives in Dublin, runs a Bed Breakfast with her lazy husband She is real busy working all the time, taking care of her kids Come to find out, her husband is having an affair with her best friend.Now for the reason I liked this book I read it and it was ok My mother had given me a hard cover copy I had a best friend who was a big time athlete and not much of a reader but I thought she d like it because it moved fast and was light weight She never read it but returned it years later after I found out she was having an affair with my husband. My first Maeve Binchy and not my last SO glad I have finally tried her I ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf for 20 years Ugh So entertaining with real life stories and characters I could totally understand, relate to, and aspire to. I have been wanting to read this book forever since this book refers to characters that are in later Binchy novels How I wish that I had stayed away from it This book is 656 pages Due to a nasty cold plus fever I had the past couple of days I wondered if perhaps I was being too harsh about this book Then I re read some passages and decided that no I was not I think the biggest thing for me is that I cannot believe this was once upon a time selected as book as the month by Oprah Winfrey I am also flabbergasted this became a movie as well I am hoping the movie cut way down on the Ireland parts, but since there is no way I am going to sit through a movie based on this book I will just blissfully let that go Tara Road though it talks about two main characters is for all intents and purposes just about one, Ria We follow her through graduating and going to work for a real estate firm where she ends up meeting her future husband, Danny Lynch We follow Ria through I think at least 14 15 years where she is a stay at home mom, doing what she can to make her husband and children happy That all changes when her husband informs her that he is ready to move onto someone else When Ria realizes that her life as she knows it is coming to an end, she decides to house swap with an American woman named Marilyn Vine Marilyn is also looking to get away from her home due to still trying to do her best to get over a tragedy.Ria is pretty much a doormat from the beginning of this book to the end If you expect to see any self awareness, it s not there Even after her husband has left her, Ria is still hoping for a reconciliation Heck, it was maybe at the 99 percent mark she finally moved on from the guy I initially felt sympathetic to Ria since you find out pretty soon that her husband was the worst from the very beginning I think that is why the book doesn t work honestly, or it didn t work for me You are just waiting for Ria to have her eyes opened to what her husband was getting up to And then she does, and she still thinks he is the best thing ever Even after all evidence points to the contrary.Marilyn felt like an afterthought to me She definitely hasbackbone than Ria But the two women s friendship comes out of nowhere for me and I thought it a bit much for them to behave as if they are best friends forever at the end of the book.Secondary characters man there are a ton were pretty shallow Ria s sister is jealous, Ria s daughter is pretty much a brat, Ria s son is clueless, Ria s best friend is terrible, etc I just felt like the book went on and on and you don t see any growth at all except in the case of Ria s daughter finally catching a clue I really hated Ria s best friend Rosemary and her other friend who was in an abusive marriage The book just painted them in broad strokes and I really didn t understand what I was supposed to take away from these two characters at all.The writing was typical Binchy, but after a while my eyes started to glaze Way too much of this book was about Ria shopping for furniture to do up her new house, wallpaper, rugs, how rooms and kitchens looked, etc.The flow was lopsided too Once you figure out what is going on in the book most of it was just me waiting for everyone else to catch up too.I usually love Binchy novels However, I realize that the earlier novels are never my cup of tea They are way too long this one is very long and there always seems to be a lack of development or closure to the books This one had a very abrupt ending and I hated that a guilty party was never confronted in the way that I thought they should have been I read Quentins before and I do know that Ria ends up in that book as well, and you do hear about what becomes of her But after reading this book and knowing what happens to her in Quentins I felt really dissatisfied Probably because I think her happy ending as it is shown was pretty bogus. I agreed to read Tara Road simply because the binding of the novel looked worn I thought to myself, how terrible of a book could it be if others had loved it with marked creases As soon as I picked it up, part of me began regretting the decision I could not find any redeeming qualities.The novel begins with Ria, a young Irish girl talking to her sister about love and relationships This, I imagine is used as a backdrop to illustrate the naivete of Ria short for Maria in the land of love Within a couple of pages we are joining Ria as a young adult, befriending another young Irish woman Rosemary and meeting the love of her life, Danny Ria and Danny quickly marry, find a grande home, and begin having children Their lives are intermingled with family members, co workers, and neighbors all living on or closely to Tara Road hence the title This continues on for nearly or250 pages The conversations are painful in fact, it was unbelievable for me to believe that they were taking place in the 1980 s 1990 s Historically, I understood that Ireland s culture is vastly different than America s i.e divorce being introduced and accepted at the turn of the century , but the dialogue amongst the Irish characters seemed outdated.The novel only becomes slightlyinteresting after Danny leaves Ria for a pregnant younger woman which results in Ria embarking on a journey across seas as she swaps houses with an American, Marilyn Marilyn s story joins the Ria drama as she begins to acquaint herself with the members of Tara Road and we discover why she ran away from her life in the States Unfortunately, right when my interest is slightly captivated, it dwindles again For another hundred pages I silently shudder at Ria s petulant behavior over her life s outcome The feminist in me seriously wants to slap her and ask, Are you serious.So why did I give it a 3 star rating Because in spite of the characters appearing rather flat, the character tree branching so far out that I had to stop many times to recount who the person was in the story, the unrealistic dialogue from the American even , and the frustration at how many parts of the story meandered, I found myself carry about their lives Caring enough that I lost a few hours of sleep on a work night to finish.Would I recommend this book to someone I don t think so Although I am sure that it has been heavily read as I realize it s part of the Oprah Book Club Somewhere between a legacy and a soap opera lies the wasteland shrug or Tara Road. {FREE PDF} Þ Tara Road º With Each New Book, Maeve Binchy Continues A Remarkable Progression Of Sales And Audience Growth, Reaching Fans Of All Ages And Backgrounds With Her Matchless Wit, Warmth, And Sheer Storytelling Magic Tara Road, Her First Full Length Novel Since The Glass Lake, Again Shows Her Incomparable Understanding Of The Human Heart In The Tale Of Two Women, One From Ireland, One From America, Who Switch Lives, And In Doing So Learn Much About Each Other, As Well As Much About ThemselvesRia Lived On Tara Road In Dublin With Her Dashing Husband, Danny, And Their Two Children She Fully Believed She Was Happily Married, Right Up Until The Day Danny Told Her He Was Leaving Her To Be With His Young, Pregnant Girlfriend By A Chance Phone Call, Ria Meets Marilyn, A Woman From New England Unable To Come To Terms With Her Only Son S Death And Now Separated From Her Husband The Two Women Exchange Houses For The Summer With Extraordinary Consequences, Each Learning That The Other Has A Deep Secret That Can Never Be RevealedDrawn Into Lifestyles Vastly Differing From Their Own, At First Each Resents The News Of How Well The Other Is Getting On Ria Seems To Have Become Quite A Hostess, Entertaining Half The Neighborhood, Which At First Irritates The Reserved And Withdrawn Marilyn, A Woman Who Has Always Guarded Her Privacy Marilyn Seems To Have Become Bosom Friends With Ria S Children, As Well As With Colm, A Handsome Restaurateur, Whom Ria Has Begun To Miss Terribly At The End Of The Summer, The Women At Last Meet Face To Face Having Learned A Great Deal, About Themselves And About Each Other, They Find That They Have Become, Firmly And Forever, Good FriendsA Moving Story Rendered With The Deft Touch Of A Master Artisan, Tara Road Is Maeve Binchy At Her Very Best Utterly Beautiful, Hauntingly Unforgettable, Entirely Original, And Wholly Enjoyable My first introduction to he writing of Maeve Binchy was her novel Circle of Friends, after which I read The Glass Lake When I saw that Tara Road was chosen as an Oprah selection, I thought it would be even better Girl Meets Boy Ria is a pretty if unspectacular girl She lives with her widowed mother and older sister, takes a secretarial course, and takes a position at a real estate agency, where she meets the gorgeous and ambitious Rosemary and the dashing Danny Lynch In real life, Danny would have gone for Rosemary, but in Binchy s world, the dashing fellow always goes for the wallflower, and Ria and Danny begin dating, get pregnant, and got married Danny s ambition leads them to purchase a run down manse on Tara Road, which Danny believes is a steal in a neighborhood that is up and coming Ria leaves the real estate agency after Danny steals a client, and aligns himself with the prominent businessman Barney McCarthy, an adulterer, risk taker, and all around slimy character.With Barney as his role model, Danny ends up leaving Ria for his pregnant 22 year old girlfriend, and Ria, after a spur of the moment phone call, engages in a house swap with an American woman, Marilyn, who is also going through a crisis Both women try new things and make changes in their lives over the two months they are in each other s homes, with a happy ending all tied up neatly in a bow Great Writing in a Bad Novel The great thing about Maeve Binchy s novels is that she can make a bowl of instant pudding into a chocolate torte Her writing style is rich, and she keeps the action moving with inter related sub plots, such as Ria s friend Gertie s marriage to an abusive alcoholic Binchy also excels at keeping the reader guessing with plot swerves and twists that you never see coming Even with a large cast of characters, the character development is so incredible that you feel you know each and every one of them, and actually find yourself interested in their stories.Of course, that makes it sound like I loved this book, and purely from a mechanical standpoint, I did But I was amazed that Oprah picked this as a selection Judging from my experience reading Tara Road as well as The Glass Lake and certain parts of Circle of Friends, you d think that Binchy has some obsession with women who just can t stand up for themselves Each and every woman in Tara Road, with the possible exception of Marilyn, is wronged by a man or men again and again and again, and never seems to learn from it Gertie stays with her husband even though he beats her and terrifies her children and makes her clean houses of her friends in addition to her regular job to pay for his alcohol Ria s mother was widowed by a man who left them no insurance and no pension to live Ria s sister Hilary marries a maninterested in pinching pennies than anything else, and ceases to have sex with her when they don t have children.And then there is Ria Tara Road seems as if it is supposed to be a story of triumph, of a woman who built her life around a man only to have her life demolished in front of her, then picks herself up by her bootstraps and moves on If that was what Ria actually did, I would have been singing the praises of this novel to anyone I met But the problem is that Ria, just like every other woman in this novel, would still take Danny back He leaves her for a younger woman He allows a lien on their wonderful home to finance his boss shady business dealings He is the most unbelievably self centered man in the world, and even after everything he does, Ria would still take him back, and go back to the way things were, and I have a hard time accepting that as a triumph If She Won t Kick Him to the Curb, I Will Perhaps I wantedfrom Ria, and from Tara Road, than is realistic I know that there are women out there in the same position as Gertie, getting beaten and selling their out of touch families on a fairy tale story of a marriage, and like Ria herself, trying hard to stand on her own and still failing because of her obsession with a man who never did love her back The sheer excellence of Binchy s writing elevates Tara Road to a two star rating, but that s as high as I m willing to concede.This review originally published at Epinions