This Year It Will Be Different by Maeve Binchy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the New York Times bestselling author of Circle of Friends and The Glass Lake comes This Year It Will Be Different, a stunning new work that brings us the magic and spirit of Christmas in fifteen stories filled with Maeve Binchy's trademark wit, charm, and sheer storytelling genius. Instead of nostalgia, Binchy evokes contemporary life; instead of Christmas homilies, she offers truth; and instead of sugarplums, she brings us the nourishment of holidays that precipitate change, growth, and new beginnings.
In "A Typical Irish Christmas," a grieving New York widower heads for a holiday in Ireland and finds an unexpected destination not just for himself, but for a father and daughter at odds. The title story "This Year It Will Be Different" also delves into the emotions of a person at mid-life--a woman with a complacent husband and grown children who are entering a season that can forever alter her life, and theirs. In "Pulling Together," a teacher not yet out of her twenties sees her affair with a married man at a turning point as Christmas Eve approaches--and she may be off on a new direction with some unusual friends. And in the delightful tale "The Hard Core," the four most recalcitrant residents of a nursing home are left alone at Christmas with the owner's daughter in charge: the result is sure to be disaster--or the kind of life-affirming renewal that only the spirit of the season can bring.
This book was a collection of great stories about Christmas celebrations. Many of them involved men, women or families from Ireland, Britain or Australia. There were stories for everyone from all walks of life and in all sorts of situations. My favorite was the one about the Irish schoolteacher who was supposed to get married but her fiance left her. Many years later, her students kept asking her what she was doing for Christmas and finally she told them she was going to America -- to New York City. They asked her to make a wish on the Statue of Liberty for them and she agreed. She found $200 in the back of her passport that she put there in anticipation of her honeymoon. She went to New York City and used the $200 to take a tour of the city. On that tour, she went to the Statue of Liberty and made a wish that the students would get their performance hall built. While she was on that particular trip, she met a man and they became good friends. The man had lost his very good friend, Stephan, within the last year. He told him he would build him an auditorium, but he couldn't do it in New York because he and Stephan were gay and his family objected. So, he and the schoolteacher decided to build Stephan's auditorium in Ireland for her students. They both got their wishes. There are lots of other stories like this one in this wonderful book. Great for reading by the fire on a cold December night.
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