Like millions of others, I was very saddened by the news of Maeve Binchy’s death as over the years I’ve enjoyed her writing so much. I met her once briefly at a book signing in Bristol and, as many people do in the presence of their idols, I became instantly tongue-tied. The twinkle in her eyes while she met her fans was something to behold – clearly she was someone who loved people and this love shone through in her work too.
She took her inspiration from the life that was going on all around her and was avidly interested in the lives of others. In an interview with Michael Parkinson, she once admitted staying on a bus long after her own stop because she found the conversation of the two women sitting behind her so fascinating! One of the many things I admire about Maeve is the way she brought her characters to life on the page. They quickly became like real people in the minds of her readers and I often found myself still wondering about them and how they were getting on long after I finished the books. Only a rare few authors have such a gift.
I don’t make a habit of bothering celebrities with letters but I broke my own rule and wrote to her once; within days I had a charming and hand-written reply. I was thrilled!
She has a new novel that was due to be released this October – I don’t know if this release will be delayed but whenever it comes out it will, of course, be another runaway best-seller and it’s such a shame she’ll not be around to witness its success. I look forward to reading it.
Rest in peace you lovely lady.