Set in contemporary Ireland, filled with warmth, wit, and drama, Scarlet Feather is the story of Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather, their spouses, families, and friends, and the struggling new catering business that transforms their lives in ways big and small.
When I think of Binchy, Scarlet Feather is the book that first comes to mind. Tom and Cathy are the quintessential Binchy characters, and their story is filled with the strange and wonderful twists and turns you would expect.
I love Tom and Cathy’s passion for their waitressing – sorry, catering – business. Tom is much more likeable than Cathy, but she has her moments. They complement each other well and their friendship is a beautiful thing. I like that they’re not always optimistic or pessimistic – they have reasonable ranges of emotions and play off each other well.
Binchy strikes the perfect balance with Simon and Maud – it would’ve been easy to lean on the side of obnoxious, pretentious children. At first, it looked like it might be going that way, but there’s an endearing quality to them that outlasts their first impression.
The Shona/James side plot was touching but didn’t contribute much to the overall narrative. I liked them both as individual characters, but their story together felt a bit contrived to fit in with other things that were going on.
Geraldine is reminiscent of Polly from Tara Road, with a little less attachment to her romantic partners. I admired her composure at all times, and I think she deserves a lot more credit than Cathy gives her. However, once Cathy finds out more details about Geraldine’s relationships, it seems to take some of the shine off of her, and Cathy gets pretty judgmental. Despite Geraldine’s contributions towards Cathy’s education and business, it seems to have earned no goodwill. However Geraldine chooses to live her life is her business.
Neil is an entitled prick. Sure, he works very hard for others less fortunate, but he assumes that others will exist happily in his orbit, giving way to his needs and desires. He seems pretty keen to not turn out like his father – corporate law, spending most of his time on the golf course – but he’s much more likely to turn out like his mother with all her entitled notions.
Marcella seems lovely but incredibly naive. Her choices are questionable at times, but who can say what decisions they would make if their dreams were on the line? I admired her commitment to her goals but did feel sorry for her.
Scarlet Feather continues to be my favourite Binchy, but they are definitely on an upward trend, so I’m looking forward to making my way through the rest of her books.