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Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy heartbreak and hope about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close knit Dublin communityWhen Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born But as a single father battling demons of his own Noel can’t do it alone Fortunately he has a competent caring network of friends family and neighbors Lisa his unlucky in love classmate who moves in with him to help him care for little Frankie around the clock; his American cousin Emily always there with a pep talk; the newly retired Dr Hat with time on his hands than he knows what to do with; Dr Declan and Fiona and their baby son Frankie’s first friend; and many eager babysitters including old friends Signora and Aidan and Frankie’s doting grandparents Josie and Charles But not everyone is pleased with the unconventional arrangement especially a nosy social worker Moira who is convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home Now it’s up to Noel to persuade her that everyone in town has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie

10 thoughts on “Minding Frankie

  1. says:

    As expected another warm human story from my favourite Irish writer about small community gathered around an orphaned newlyborn babygirl Standard warm novel from great lady

  2. says:

    Maeve Binchy has always been a favorite author of mine as I tend to prefer novels set in Ireland and the UK the Old Country is so much romantic somehow However my fondness for Binchy is wearing thin and I much prefer her earlier works I have read all her books so I was familiar with the characters from her previous novels who showed up here and there are a lot to keep track of I'm beginning to find it irritating how she flits from one character to the next lightly touching down before flying off to the next one She only grazes the surface and I don't feel there's any real character depth I also find it exceedingly unlikely that one of the major characters Emily a New Yorker visiting relatives she's never met manages to transform their lives and every thing she touches even giving life long Dubliners directions on where and how to find anything She's some kind of miracle worker intervening and solving problems and becoming so essential that everybody becomes dependent on her but we really know nothing about her character I think as nice as she seems to be that I would find her to be an interloper who's just a tad annoying Funny that none of the characters think this because she's too perfect and everyone adores her To be realistic aren't fictional characters supposed to have some flaws? And I also found it unbelievable when she becomes romantically linked with a character who's barely mentioned That could have been a wonderful part of the story but it comes totally out of left field with no development at all As in Binchy's other recent novels characters' lives are magically transformed the hard working deserving lower class receive financial windfalls the demons of addiction are easily dispensed with better jobs always await those who show initiative family issues are happily resolved and nearly everyone finds the right romantic partner It's a reassuring world Binchy creates but her slice of life stories resemble of a fairy tale than real life I like happy endings but I don't like feeling manipulated Still I enjoy the pleasant diversion of spending time in Binchy's world even if it does have a rosy tint

  3. says:

    Struggling with his own demons of alcoholism Noel must find a way of pulling himself together to look after his baby daughter Frankie after her mother passed away not long after giving birth to her With the support from family friends and neighbors Noel's starts to get his life back on track Having Frankie in his life has turned Noel's world upside down in a positive way and he couldn't imagine life without her But could this all change when a prying social worker has doubts that Frankie is in the best care Noel will have to do all he can to convince the social worker that Frankie is in the best place but will it be enough? A beautiful heartwarming story that I thoroughly enjoyed Highly recommended

  4. says:

    This is a story that I will re read soon Maeve's books just are special She's the type of writer that you feel you have a kinship with as her stories are just so good This was no exception I just found my brand new copy of this amongst the too many kids books I have jammed in my shelf Definitely a re read ASAP I guess this is when my silly jam packed bookhomewares shelf has it's positive side

  5. says:

    Minding Frankie is really a mixed bag On one hand it follows a character that many books I read don’t bother with an older female This character Emily exerts her powers in distinctly feminine ways without tying herself to the kitchen and her pushes help to heal a household and make effects on the community at large in such a touching way with thanks to the skills of the writer It handles religion intelligently in that the characters have some but the readers aren’t lectured on the author’s On the other hand Maeve Binchy’s refusal to describe characters beyond giving a few of them hair colour leaves me to conclude in the same way that I concluded Ms Binchy was a teacher because Emily was that Emily is overweight with short brownblonde hair green eyes with arched eyebrows and the starting of a double chin much the same as the author’s portrait on the back of the book Emily is not a full blown Mary Sue she can be genuinely likeable a lot of the time depending on your mind set and her role tapers off as the plot continues But the moments she does take over are unforgivableThough this book starts off extremely promising in Binchy’s decision to discuss death alcoholism child rearing and isolation it often takes the easy road and skips the hardest scenes and tells us about them second hand For instance if you think that we the readers should get to see the characters struggle with the first night that Frankie the baby who the book was named after comes home from the hospital then you don’t subscribe to Binchy’s writing style If you don’t want to have a point of view paragraph or two about the man diagnosed with lung cancer and six months to live you Binchy is the author for you He moves from zero into acceptance and stays there This is especially sad because though this man is one of the major supporting cast and pages and pages are dedicated to him his family and his funeral it’s not once stated that he smokes Smoking doesn’t equal instant lung cancer and neither does lung cancer only lead to smoking but I would have a host of non acceptance feelings if I’d never touched cigarettes and still been diagnosed with lung cancer Binchy really should invest in a better editor because omissions like this run right through the 400 page bookNoel’s relapses do get attention but can be oddly cartoonish as demonstrated by this exchangeNoel ‘From tomorrow on it will be back just the same as it Noel’s sobriety was up to now’‘What do you mean tomorrow? What’s wrong with today?’ Malachy asked‘Well tomorrow fresh start and everything’‘Today fresh start and everything’ Malachy said‘But just a couple of vodkas to straighten me up and then we can start with a clean slate?’ Noel was almost begging now‘Grow up Noel Malachy said – chpt 7Grow up indeed Noel Maybe Binchy has heard someone actually say something like this in this situation but it rings childish and simplistic Noel only relapses when extremely stressed and though we do get a short paragraph about his cravings at the start of the book we learn none of his coping mechanisms We are constantly told Noel goes to AA but are barely given a peek at his first AA Binchy brings up his potential for alcoholism related impotence yet we’re never told if Noel actually does suffer itOther difficult issues are fully ignored such as Stella’s maternal smoking I’m not saying that everything that can go wrong must go wrong but Binchy does not seem to have even the most passing knowledge that maternal smoking can effect a foetus which is odd considering that Frankie’s mother is dying of lung cancer Again and again the opportunity to raise the issue that Frankie could have suffered premature birth low birth weight asthma addiction and withdrawal possible retardation from the restricted oxygen supply etc when everyone from the priest is smuggling Stella cigarettes and she is you know dying of lung cancer herself I wasn’t sure if this was a lack of research into the author’s part The fact that she understands that smokingbad yet has not taken in any of the hundreds of antismoking campaigns directed at expectant mothers at first left me to conclude that Binchy is a fucking idiot That said though the plot is left intact and cancer is able to kill two characters quite cleanly as plots go Cancer is scary and fatal disease You often don’t know you have it until it’s too late to do anything That is all Binchy needs to tell this story and that’s all that you need to really know to enjoy it It doesn’t distract from the real bitter sweetness that Binchy manages to evoke upon both characters’ deaths There is scene very close to the end that Binchy handles above averagely but I won’t spoil it for youThe book is extremely repetitive and character development can move like treacle at times Again and again Lisa goes out with Anton hopes for and is unsatisfied Again and again she hates her rival in his affections and we learn that said rival has no idea what they’re doing Again and again Moira embarrasses herself with her own abruptness and again and again all the other characters tell each other and us what a stuck up bitch she is All the dysfunctional families or which three are mentioned in detail have emotionally absent distracted mothers They can’t be abusive or drug addicted or ill or having affairs The fathers are similarly distant They must only be absent It gets boring when all the characters’ back stories start ending up the sameWe are often told in unneeded detail about the roster for who has Baby Frankie and about where Emily’s going though we rarely follow them Baby Frankie becomes less of a baby and as a prop as she gets wheeled from place to place and being well behaved More time is spent on this her actually bonding with every other character Her entire interactions with her grandparents is summed up in one or two scant paragraphs In the same way Emily’s romance confuses the reader because we spend time learning what Emily is cooking for her lover then giving lingering glances or affectionate hugs When he proposed to her I was blown over by the fact that she had said yes She’d never shown the readers any affection for him romantic or otherwise up until that point I honestly thought she was just passing time with him as something to do and can’t imagine that they’d actually consummate their marriage considering that Binchy never bothered to build up any chemistry between them But don’t worry we know exactly what they have for dinner every time we’re with them Yet again I bemoan the fact that Binchy doesn’t know a good editor when she sees one It’s truly sad that someone wasn’t there to whisper in her ear that readers care about the honeymoon than about Emily’s brilliant organisational skills in getting them there Descriptions of clothes take up time than character descriptions and one could excuse the fact that some of the girls working at the thrift shop But that doesn’t excuse the fact that I have no mental image of Noel except that he’s in his late twenties or early thirties maybe At the very end of the book we find out that he doesn’t have dark eyes or high cheek bones which sucks because I actually decided to give him dark blue eyes in my headEmily comes to Dublin and within a few days of arrival helps Charles confess to the family that he has lost his job and Noel confess his alcoholism Emily’s lively presence is needed in this world especially for her ability to spot Noel’s alcoholism As Stella goes to her death it is not her the doctor thinks of Neither is it his own wife who has just given birth an hour ago to a healthy baby boy Nor is it any of his friends or family which he has known for years not Noel who has turned his life around or his parents No in Stella’s last conscious moments it is Emily who he’d only met some weeks ago that fills his head with her liveliness Jesus BinchyIn Emily’s presence other characters become dimmer to justify their need of her in their lives Charles bemoans the fact that she’s going back to America because Emily was always finding him new clients and remembering to segregate dogs of different sexes in case they might do something to annoy their owners greatlyAt the doctor’s practice they would miss her too Nobody seemed to know exactly where to find this document or that Emily was a reassuring presence Everyone who worked there had her mobile number but they had been told that she couldn’t be called for three weeks As Declan Carroll said it was unnerving just like going off a high diving board without EmilyWho else would know all the things that Emily knew? The best bus route to the hospital the address of the chiropodist that all the patients liked the name of the pastoral carer in St Brigid’s? –chpt 10Remember this woman has been here for a year give or take or less She tries to help but in that year a grown man with no mental retardation has lost the confidence to keep differently sexed dogs apart staff don’t know how to file properly including the referral records to the chiropodist and the contact details for hospital’s pastor or even how to get to the hospital that they work at That’s right the people who go to work every day to the heart clinic on the hospital’s grounds don’t know how to get to the hospitalBut obviously Binchy is referring to the patients asking directions She apparently then knows the best bus route from anywhere in Dublin to the hospital and can tailor her knowledge to the client I have something like that and it’s called Trip Planner If a client who’s booked an appointment at my hospital doesn’t know how to get there I might consider opening it up for them But only because I work at private and I have the time It’s up to the patient to get to the hospital just like it’s up to them to get to everywhere else in their lives as functioning adults In the same way if someone from work called me to ask me who the best chiropodist was I’d think they were retarded I’d also think I was retarded because I’d given my number out I do give my number to my work you have to but there’s a difference between giving your contact details to your boss and giving it to everyone on staff with the implication that they can use you and not their brains as the first point of referenceAnd that’s where it gets dark right there no one seems to be missing Emily just what she does for them The book does sometimes dip its toe in insightLisa wondered what it would be like to have a life like this where everyone sort of depended on you but nobody actually loved you chpt 5But this amounts to little Emily is a Mary Sue but in a different way instead of a teenage girl who is loved for no reason we have a middle aged woman who is needed by everyone This woman thiks Binchy will never be passed over will never be forgotten Emily is a wonder woman with her boundless energy and an emotional genius in her insights into others She pays lip service to them having to learn to live without her but then she does things like giving out her number and letting people know they can call her if anything goes wrong But it gets creepy quickly because everybody needs Emily The author tries to give Emily character development too She does many things even marriage though that has little effect on her Her best friend Betsy notes that there’s an amazing change in Emily from introvert to extravert but what Emily states about herself which I take to be true directly contradicts that From the very start as soon as Emily quit her job as an art teacher because they kept her in the back filing papers she started to acquire skills and decided to go out and find her roots At no point does she ever show timidness or uncertainty Her brief dabbling into outrage becomes a misunderstood cop outIt’s a small world in Minding Frankie Apparently there are only three restaurants in all of Dublin Characters who have never met Anton and have no stakes in his restaurant are still only allowed mind bogglingly to choose between his and his rival for where to go for dinner yet apparently his restaurant is still struggling Where other writers find pride in widening their world with as few strokes as possible Binchy takes a perverse delight in making hers as small as possible It gets to eye rolling levels of confining when of course the police sergeant’s wife is Muttie’s nurse as almost no character mentioned by name can somehow not be connected to someone else It depends on your own personality whether or not you find Clara hooking up her daughter with her best friend’s son creepy or sweet It didn’t sit well with me for reasons I can’t explain but I forgive them because that’s the only chance at a date in this tiny tiny worldThere is a huge lack of growth for the majority of characters yet the book doesn’t direct the reader to see that as a bad thing Noel’s entire character development is over by the first quarter of the book I suggest you not bother with Clara whose character development goes from a tough old bird with a heart and a mum who’s sleeping with a man she’ so so about to a tough old bird with a heart and a mum who’s moving in with the man she’s so so about because Binchy refuses to build up any sexual chemistry or romantic love between any of the characters except with Lisa and Anton but that’s the only basis of their relationship Which is odd because she seems to be able to talk frankly about sex Baby Frankie is not a real child but due to her young age merely a prop to be wheeled from place to place In fact no one at the heart clinic has any kind or development though one does finally have a baby after numerous miscarriagesThe book does take some unexpected turns Two characters who by all romantic convention should hook up don’t A character who is set up to deserve a happy ending doesn’t get oneThe designated villain of the book Moira the social worker was handled unfairly in my opinion Moira is a shell of woman from a broken family She has no friends to speak of SPOILERS Some may say that her happy ending was subtle but her stepmother’s change of heart simply seemed out of the blue and didn’t reflect Moira’s actions By the end of the novel the colleagues she’s worked for months with have no warmth for her and in fact state jokingly that they’d never invite her to a party though do praise her skills at doing her job The tentative one sided friendship that she was starting to build with another main character crumbled before it could get off the ground with limited growth for Moira a character that Binchy tries to paint as sympathetic Though perhaps realistic this was made grating by the repetition of how horrible she was by characters that I liked nowhere near as much Moira is frowned upon for telling another character that she knows a friend of his through her work as a social worker Yet it’s okay for a doctor to pronounce dead a man who he considers family I’m not even going into the fact that all the good characterstry to hide Noel’s relapses from the stuck up bitchAfter all that if you’re wondering why I didn’t give this book a lower rating it’s because Binchy is a rather good writer in that she has an amazing ability to insert warmth into the story It’s an easy read if you don’t think about it too hardShort recommendation Buy this book if you want a warm and fuzzy feeling It’s an easy read and you don’t have to think too much There’s one especially tear jerking scene early on where I did feel my eyes dampen and wasn’t ashamed to admit it

  6. says:

    At some point I will accept that there were Maeve Binchy books that I loved and stop trying to find Maeve Binchy books to love because this is a goal I am never going to achieveMINDING FRANKIE is one of Binchy's later books and I truly believe after the success of books like Circle of Friends and the Oprah selection Tara Road which I was also not a fan of she got stuck in the rut of how do I keep writing the same thing over again so people will keep buying my books?If you had told me MINDING FRANKIE was a Binchy parody I'd have believed you For starters there is a huge cast of characters Huge There had to be at least 11000 characters and I don't even think I'm exaggerating I lost track of them all There's Noel who's apparently an alcoholic And he gets a call from this girl he shagged while drunk who claims he got her pregnant And then she in some bizarro fashion is going to die when she has the babyI can't even make this up Binchy surely had access to Wikipedia to look up things like dramatic cancer related death of woman during c section and then didn'tSo Noel has to dry out and take care of this baby and he does so with this pathetic bunch of people who are all inexplicably saved by this American cousin of his who was fired from her teaching position in the States because Binchy also doesn't understand things like tenure and comes to Ireland to learn about her familyAnd there are other factors like Noel's parents having this huge fund drive to build a statue for some rando saint and his roommate who left her job to do things for this guy who does everything but hand her a copy of He's Just Not That Into You to convey his feelings and his social worker has so much time on her hands she drops in on EVERYONE in this village in her Wicked Witch of the West routine to Separate Noel From His ChildNot to mention that everyone both dresses and acts like it's still the 1950s when many of Binchy's earlier books took place and this book is confusing as all hellI watched soap operas for years and there was less drama when Reba Shane was cloned on Guiding Light than there is in this 400 page bookThe thing is Binchy always makes you care at least about ONE character and I kept going because a I paid for the book and b I needed to make sure Noel ended up okay with his kid But the rest? I need to remind myself to NOT BUY ANY MORE OF HER BOOKS and satisfy myself with the two I loved

  7. says:

    Okso maybe it's not the most realistic storyor maybe it could be Man Noel finds out an ex fling he barely remembers Stella is dying and is pregnantshe pronounces Noel the father Noel is an alcoholic lives at home with his parents and his job is hanging on by mere threads But of course he agrees to be guardian for baby Frankie when Stella dies during childbirth And of course as chance would have it many in the neighborhood in Dublin Irelandare retired or are willing and able to give their time along with Noel's family including an all but unknown American cousin Emily who shows up on his doorstep like Mary Poppins than even Mary Poppins to rally together and mind Frankie So while this sounds good in theory there are bound to be a few glitchesand if you throw into the story a social worker who is determined from the start that Frankie would be better off in foster care you have the basic story So yes it seems a rediculously simple story line YETI loved this book Loved the bit of Irish flavor that came through Loved the characters Loved that the story didn't get bogged down with details that didn't matter or even those that might have mattered This is not a book that will teach you about history or educate you about another country; it's not a book that has some hidden mystery or unsolved crime It's a simple day in the life of story of the first two years of day to day events of raising a child And sure things happen Frankie goes missing for awhile Noel questions his paternity Noel goes missing for awhile etc but what child has ever been raised in a perfect world without some mistakes made? I highly recommend this book as a cuddle up with a hot cup of cocoa and just relax type reading

  8. says:

    I listened to this while jogging and found it a perfect match for the activity The story is so warmly told with wonderful characters As I listened along I remembered many of these people from Quentins and Scarlet Feather It took me awhile to recognize them and I may have not recognized others It's been ages since I read these I really enjoyed hearing how these people are doing In essence this tells the story of a man who becomes a father unexpectedly and how that one little girl changed his life and the lives of others banding them together into a wonderful family group A very warm heart touching story

  9. says:

    Every single time I pick up a Maeve book it is like coming home after a long exhausting trip and falling into that comfortable easy chair with the endless cups of hot tea at your side and all the favorite characters in Dublin hovering around if only life can be that comforting I read Maeve for the reasons I have stated above and for the fact that she really is a talented writer who manages to keep the reader's interest in ordinary characters Ordinary characters with ordinary concerns and issues and yet somehow she makes them special and interesting She writes compellingly of life in Ireland that some day I must go there and see with my own eyes the beautiful land she loves so deeply I was so excited to get this advanced copy that I managed to read this within two days it helps that I am snowed in as well I hated to see the end of this book as I didn't want to let go of the characters I hope Binchy will write another one soon especially about that annoying social worker Moira I'd like to know what happened to herMaeve's fans will love this book as well so don't hesitate to pick up this book

  10. says:

    Minding Frankie excels due to what it is not Noel Lynch is indeed an invisible office drone at a company called Hall’s a burgeoning alcoholic slowly sliding toward ruin — a man rescued from despair and set on the path to sobriety by the birth of a daughter but the novel isn’t grueling Permanent Midnight although there are relapses and dark times His American cousin Emily Lynch sweeps into the life of Noel and his ultra religious parents and sets everything to rights but Minding Frankie isn’t Cold Comfort Farm although it’s amusing as well The Lynches’ entire circle of friends does rally around the newborn Frankie — christened Frances Stella Dixon Lynch — but the novel never comes off as maudlin Instead Minding Frankie paints a portrait of the residents of St Jarlath’s Court a working class Dublin neighborhood who help each other through births abandonments bad romances new loves — and of course looking after the delightful infant girl Frankie While comforting Minding Frankie never descends to cliché or easy resolution In other words it’s yet another perfect Maeve Binchy novel