Desmond and Deirdre Doyle will have been married for twenty-five years in October. It falls to the Doyles’ eldest daughter, Anna, to decide how best to commemorate her parents’ Silver Wedding. No use asking her sister Helen, living in her London convent, or her brother Brendan, who has chosen another form of exile on a bleak farm in the West of Ireland.
But it is unthinkable not to have a party, even though for the Doyles, family occasions are more difficult than for most. For each of them is keeping up a front, nursing a secret wound, or smarting over a hidden betrayal. And as the day draws nearer, so the tension mounts, until finally the guests gather at the party itself…
I was very invested in the first chapter of Silver Wedding. Anna’s relationship with everyone in her life is fraught with tension – I can’t really relate to that people-pleasing mentality, but Binchy’s writing had me on the hook to find out what would happen next. So imagine my surprise when we totally abandon Anna in the very next chapter and never go back. I have no problem with short stories; it was just a bit disappointing to not get more satisfactory closure with Anna, particularly regarding her romantic entanglements.
With that in mind, the next chapter is about Brendan, who I definitely related to a lot more. Despite his protesting family, I love that he knew what he wanted to do and just did it. His quiet appreciation of life on the farm with a non-meddling family member was an interesting contrast to Anna’s hectic and anxiety-ridden life.
I think you’re supposed to feel sorry for Helen and the situations she gets herself into, but I just think she’s dumb. I don’t care how oblivious you are; if you keep doing the same things and causing this much drama, it’s your fault. My apathy towards Helen applied to most of the characters that came after – they just float through life, letting things happen to them, never taking a stand or doing something to force a change. Maureen and Father Hurley may be the exceptions – though they also allow events to occur which leave them unhappy or unsettled.
A strong start fizzled to an okay ending, leaving the entire book feeling fairly average.