Philip Bray farewells Maeve Binchy


Maeve Binchy

The obituaries for Peter Tranter and Maeve Binchy in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald brought memories flooding into my mind. Peter was deputy-mayor of North Sydney at the same time as I was deputy-mayor of Leichhardt and  our councils were leading the way in involving the public in the decision making processes of councils. Until then, the early 1970’s, councils were essentially about kerbs, gutters and garbage. It was revolutionary  then to involve the public in town planning and to have councils involved in broader social and political issues.Maeve Binchy was a wonderful writer and a wonderful person. When she was in better health she visited Australia, which she loved, regularly and often stayed in Balmain. She used to pop into Brays and it was always a pleasure. As far as I know she never rearranged our shelves. I mention this because she did once rearrange the shelves at an airport bookshop so that a whole wall became devoted to Irish writers!Along with other independent booksellers we had a function with Maeve at The Independent Theatre in North Sydney. The theatre was full to capacity and Maeve sat on a comfy chair on stage and simply chatted. She spoke in exactly the way she writes. Whenever I read her books I hear her voice and feel her warm and witty personality. I have had a quick look at some of the tributes to Maeve and the words which keep coming up are; charming, intelligent, warm and  generous. .Maeve Binchy was the author of 16 novels and several books of short stories which together have sold over 40 million copies! She wrote with gentle humour of village and town life in Ireland. Her stories were of love, hope, generosity and possibility.That was Maeve. She will be sorely missed.

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Independent booksellers since 1969.
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