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Mave Binchy’s Tara Road, published by Orion in 1998, showcases characters found in other works by the author, including Evening Class, Scarlet Feather, and Quentins. The novel centers on the life of Ria Lynch and her charming husband, Danny. It is an engaging look into the complexities of life and relationships, and it is a subtle examination on the many stereotypes in which women are often trapped.

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The book’s title is taken from the road on which the main characters live: it is an intimate neighborhood on the outskirts of Dublin. A young Ria falls madly in love with the handsome Danny Lynch, a real estate broker. Ria, along with everyone else, is surprised when Danny courts her instead of the beautiful Rosemary Ryan, Ria’s best friend. When Ria becomes pregnant with the couple’s first child, Annie, she and Danny decide to marry. Out of sheer luck, Danny’s business associate, Barney McCarthy, agrees to help finance No. 16 Tara Road, a beautiful Victorian home. The couple is eager to start their new life, and quickly, No. 16 Tara Road is filled with the sounds of their two children, Annie, their little boy, Brian, and all of their neighbors.

Danny confesses to Ria that he is leaving her in order to live with his younger, pregnant girlfriend. When Ria receives a phone call from Marilyn Vine, a mysterious American woman, she decides to swap houses and move to Connecticut for the summer. It is in America that Ria discovers her true self; likewise, Marilyn is able to finally grieve for her son, who died in a motorcycle accident the previous year. She also discovers that Rosemary has been having an affair with Danny for most of his marriage to Ria. Marilyn uses this to coerce Rosemary into financially backing Ria’s new catering business.

It is all too easy to fall in love with the characters in Tara Road. Through Binchy’s clever use of dialogue and description, the reader is swept away into the world in which she so convincingly creates. Tara Road was turned into a movie starring Andie MacDowell and Olivia Williams in 2005.

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