Binchy narrates Circle of Friends to slowly and separately expose the lives of different characters. The novel switches focus between Benny's life and the lives of Eve, Nan and Jack. Binchy's characters are multidimensional, illuminating the problems and anguish relevant to the turbulence people in their late teens and early twenties experience.
While male Irish authors have a long line of literary precedents, Irish female authors have only flourished fairly recently. Virginia Woolf, a British author, often decried the paucity of women writers in general. Binchy and other contemporary Irish women authors such as Edna O'Brien, Julia O'Faolain, Jennifer Johnston, and Clare Boylan (to name a few) owe an allegiance to turn of the century novelist Maria Edgeworth and her domestic saga Castle Rachrent (1800). Other precedents include Edith Somerville and Violet Martin's (E.O.E. Somerville and. Martin Ross) The Real Charlotte (1894), and the writings of the early 1900s of Elizabeth Bowen, Kate O'Brien, Mary Lavin, and Molly Keane.
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