Reading Maeve Binchy’s stories are as comforting as snuggling into bed on a cold night in your warmest pyjamas, with the electric blanket on and a block of chocolate sitting on the bedside table. (It’s the small things that make me happy).
Full House is a long short story rather than a novel, but the plot is classic Maeve Binchy just the same.
Dee and Liam Nolan are an ordinary, hard working couple with three grown up children still living at home. Rosie came home when her marriage didn’t live up to her fairy tale dreams, Helen is too tight with her own earnings as a teacher to move out and Anthony is a musician who doesn’t live in the real world. Up until he loses his job in the recession, Liam was happy to continue providing for his grown up children, but poor Dee, who works hard all day only to come home and continue working as an unpaid drudge for her children, has been wanting to make changes for a while.
Dee and Liam quickly realise they can’t afford for things to go on the way they always have, with none of the children contributing in any way to the household finances. When Dee gets another job, in addition to her cleaning work, Rosie, Helen and Anthony are affronted by her suggestion that they do some housework, let alone that they contribute financially to the household. (The children really are the most enormous bludgers).
Dee stops cooking and cleaning for the children (about bloody time, in my opinion) and when Rosie goes to London for a six week training course, Dee and Liam force Helen and Anthony out of the house also, clean up their rooms and rent them out to paying tenants.
Dee takes full responsibility for her adult children’s lack of responsibility, which I really liked. I actually know some people who have grown children living with and sponging off them in real life and I feel a lack of respect for these parents for not bringing their children up to be responsible, independent adults. When Dee and Liam force changes in their household, they do themselves and their children a favour. (Isn’t having an anonymous blog freeing? I can say what I really think about all sorts of issues).
My favourite thing about Maeve Binchy’s stories are her ability to make me feel as if I know the characters. Some of the characters in Full House have appeared in her other novels, which also contributes to the feeling of familiarity. The characters aren’t quite as familiar to me as my own family, but they might be dear friends living somewhere I have visited and am fond of.
I don’t know how Maeve Binchy creates this comfortable feeling, but she managed it from the first paragraph in every single book or story she ever wrote. Her stories are never a strain, although sometimes the characters are unhappy and have terrible trials. I always feel satisfied after reading her stories and happier for the time spent in her world.