Firefly Summer

- Maeve Binchy

Goodreads Book Blurb:

Every summer the four Ryan children play in the ruins of Fernscourt, the once-grand house on the bank of the river.

But when the estate is bought by Patrick O’Neill, the wealthy Irish American, his grand plans for its development threaten to shatter the peace. A new luxury hotel promises to breathe new life into the village, and yet it could also spell disaster for the Ryan family.

And as old values and traditions begin to crumble away, no-one – not even Patrick – can predict what his big dreams will do to the heart of their quiet village.


My Review:

enjoyable/easy to read:

While some of these storylines were enjoyable, there were too many characters, and not enough happened to warrant over 900 pages.

I really enjoyed Kate and Rachel’s friendship. I don’t know that I particularly liked either character on their own, but they understood and brought out the best in each other, despite how different their lives were. That may be the root of my problem with Firefly Summer – none of the characters were likeable, exactly. Some had a few good moments, but they were generally uninspiring. The twins, Michael and Dara, were self-centred and blind to anything and anyone besides the O’Neills. Grace and Kerry were two sides of the same coin – Grace only able to be optimistic and good, Kerry only capable of dark and conniving. They both have their father’s trick of saying the right thing to the right people, but, unlike Patrick, they seem to care less about the people around them. However, while Patrick cares about the people around him, he’s in his own delusional world most of the time and misses how his actions will affect others. John isn’t as smooth as Patrick, but he’s much more aware of others and his surroundings, especially as the narrative continues. I felt bad for Eddie, though. He’s excluded from activities due to his age, and then he gets into trouble because he’s bored and alone, which gets him a reputation and then he’s excluded further. He seems sweet, lonely, and misunderstood. Finally, several expected small-town characters round out the cast to add levity and insanity as needed.

With such a large cast, the length of Firefly Summer makes sense, but it doesn’t make it easier to get through. Some serious editing could have improved this story immensely. The story covers a lot of highs and lows and is incredibly surprising at times, but it all ends in the usual Binchy way: a small town coming together to witness a tragedy, leaving the story quite open-ended.

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