Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Romance

Book Review: Echoes by Maeve Binchy

Echoes is an emotional read that explores what can happen after you get your heart’s desire, and how that is not always as magical as it seems at first glance.

Goodreads Rating: 3.87

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Spoiler-free Summary:

“It was sometimes called the echo cave, and if you shouted your question loud enough in the right direction, you got an answer instead of an echo…”

Clare and David–divided as children by a rigid social code that branded her as shanty Irish and him as gentry…brought together as adults by a desire that knew no class, no barriers, only the urgent hunger of two people destined to love–and ready to defy a world determined to keep them apart.

Even at fifteen, David Power knew the echo would answer eleven-year-old Clare O’Brien’s dearest wish, to win a school prize. But it was years before Dr. Power’s cherished only son saw in the huckster’s daughter the answer to his own heart’s desire.

Here in Castlebay, perched precariously on the seaside cliffs, the lines between them were clearly drawn. Clare’s only hope is to leave the town where time stopped, propelled by scholarships to Dublin, fueled by her own drive and brilliance, far from the insular, gossipy world of Castlebay and those in its thrall… Angela O’Hara, beautiful, isolated, a teacher trapped in the convent school, who risks everything to help Clare escape… Gerry Doyle, the town charmer who finds in Clare the woman he vows to have at any price… Caroline Nolan, the beautiful, rich outsider who comes to plunder…

For Clare, that was before the wild freedom of Dublin, and love. And David.  Before fate drove them back to Castlebay, and the past…

My Thoughts:

I have a lot of thoughts about this one, and they’re a bit “spoilerly” so read at your own risk. Haha.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with the world that Binchy so easily creates. So, they may be surprised that I am only giving “Echoes” a 3 out of 5.

While her setting, cast of characters and storytelling abilities are as top-notch as ever, this book left me strangely unsatisfied. My main issue seems to be one that is “echoed” forgive the pun, by many of my fellow reviewers. Mainly that the love story of Clare and David is not given enough time to develop in comparison with the rest of the book.

I’m all for falling in love fast, but their love just didn’t seem real to me for most of their relationship. In my opinion, David, who was stifled by his overbearing parents was drawn to Clare because he knew his mother would disapprove. My suspicions of this are given weight by how easily cheats on her with Caroline, and how little regret he feels.

Clare, did eventually prove to me that she loved David, but only after she burned the pictures and was willing to forgive everything. She certainly is an amazing character with rarely paralleled strength.

However, all that being said, and even though I know what the final scene of the two leaving Gerry’s funeral together was meant to portray, I still can’t shake the feeling that the only reason they were sticking it out is to prove to everyone that they weren’t wrong.

I wasn’t left with a feeling that love conquers all, but more that stubbornness conquers all. While I love the realism, I still am not as enthralled as I wanted to be. 

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