Seven years ago, Melody and I sat next to each other on a British Airways flight from Kampala to London. We were both reading Maeve Binchy books and drinking white wine mixed with Ginger Ale (somehow a good idea at the time). Our Glaswegian flight attendant stopped by our row, noticed our books and told us that she too was a Binchy fan. She (the flight attendant) went on to tell us she sometimes worked the BA flight to South Africa and that Binchy and her husband Gordon Snell were often aboard. Binchy and Snell were both delightful, very much in love, hilarious and humble. I fell even more in love with Maeve Binchy that day.
What really made we love Maeve Binchy that day was her writing connected three women on a flight over the Sahara. Melody and I still speak about the flight attendant and what a wonderful experience we had with her. She was warm and humorous and I thank Maeve for giving us a connection.
I was in high school when I read Light a Penny Candle. I was recovering from minor oral surgery in hospital in Inverness and my dear friend Morven gave it to me. She promised I would be enchanted by Binchy’s writing and her characters. Morven was right. I was immediately hooked. I think of Binchy as a true storyteller and often longed to curl up at her feet with a warm cup of milk (or a hot toddy) as she weaved a tale. That’s actually how I feel when I read her books. I feel like I am sitting with Maeve Binchy in her living room and she is telling her story to me.
I was in a panic last year to get Minding Frankie. Cruelly, it was released earlier in Britain than in the States. I tried to hatch a grand scheme of ordering it on amazon.co.uk, sending it my parents’ house on the Isle of Skye, and then having them attach it to the fastest carrier pigeon in the world. There was an easier solution. I was in Scotland when the book came out and was so thrilled when I got the book that I couldn’t open it. I didn’t want it to be over and saved it as long as I could. Now I wish I had waited a bit longer.
I’m thankful for an author who allowed me and so many others to be part of her life through her writing. She was tremendous, and I am so sad she is gone.