Binchy has a way with emotions. I suppose when your specialty is writing about life in a small town, you really have to nail the emotional dynamics. Circle of Friends nails this; the petty jealousies, the sneaking around, the lifelong friendships – it’s all here. All of these relationships are interconnected, and pulling a thread moves them all in different directions.
The pace feels a little slow at times, but this allows for a wealth of character development. By the end, none of these characters is the same as how they began. There was more complexity to the characters and their experiences than in the previous Binchy books I’ve read, so the length of Circle of Friends was more fitting.
Eve and Benny’s friendship is the bedrock of this story. Bonded together as two young outsiders, Circle of Friends is really the story of what happens to this friendship over time, from childhood to adulthood. Yes, there are plenty of characters outside these two to fill out the world, but I was always most interested in how every action and situation would end up affecting their friendship. I was rooting for them more than any other relationships taking place. It is their constancy and unbreakable spirit through several hardships that made this book so enjoyable.