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30 March, 2007
Book Review: Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy
Reviewed for armchair interviews.
St. Anne’s well. It is a relic site, located in the Whitethorn Woods outside of the town of Rossmore, Ireland. It is believed to be a holy place where many people have traveled over the generations. There, they pray and share their hopes, dreams, and fears for St. Anne to hear and answer.
However, the tranquility of St. Anne’s well is being threatened. A new road has been proposed that would bypass Rossmore and ease the traffic congestion that the town currently suffers from. Everyone has an opinion on whether the road would be beneficial to Rossmoor, or not. However, the planned route for the road cuts across farm fields, and through the Whitethorn Woods. If the road is built, the grotto housing St. Anne’s well will be destroyed.
Father Flynn, the younger of the two priests in the town’s Catholic Church, is caught in the middle of the debate. One side believes that the well should be protected, as it is a site of spiritual power. However, the other side scoffs at the superstitions surrounding the well, and argues that progress should be allowed to freely push forward. Father Flynn, not having decided which side to favor, listens to the stories of the people involved in the conflict. It is through these stories that we are introduced to the people living in Rossmore and those visiting the town. The stories show us the town’s past, and how the actions made during the current day will affect and change the town’s uncertain future.
The prolific Maeve Binchy, once again, brings Ireland to life by intertwining each story too magnificently to create a tapestry depicting life in Rossmore. I found that the short story style of the book made the overall story much stronger. I have not read many of Maeve Binchy’s books, but based on this one I will definably look forward to reading more from her.