Minding Frankie

Minding Frankie - Maeve Binchy If you have been a follower of Maeve's work, you will immediately recognize the close-knit neighborhood in Dublin, St Jarlath's Parish. You will also recognize so many people from past books and feel so very comfortable reading more about them, reconnecting with them, crying with them, having babies with them, and even burying them. However, we will meet some new people too and that is the fun of this book...if a book like this could actually be thought of as fun. This book is deep, it is profound, but it is rarely fun.

We will meet Noel an alcoholic who learns that a woman he doesn't remember is having his child and wants him to raise the child after she dies, since she is dying of cancer.
We will meet Frankie---the child of Noel and Stella. If the phrase "It takes a village to raise a child" ever meant anything, it sure means something in Frankie's case since the entire neighborhood comes together to care for her and to make a perfect life for her.
We will meet an American cousin, the middle aged Emily, whose seemingly sole purpose is to fix everyone and everything with her good advice and inner strength.
We will meet Moira the exact opposite of Emily, a social worker who is so afraid of seeing yet another headline in the paper of how social workers fail to keep children safe, that she is going overboard with her newest case, Noel and his new daughter Frankie. Moira is socially inept and heavy-handed and sometimes...ok, often times! annoying, but somehow we can understand her actions as they pertain to Frankie.

This was of course another wonderful Maeve Binchy book that tries to follow Maeve's writing formula---but for once, this book didn't seem to WANT to follow Maeve's formula. I think the stories in this book were too large to want to stay contained in one book. Sometimes this book seemed to feel more like a series of short novella's that just happened to have a common thread, than one interlocking novel.
I found the abrupt ending to be unsatisfying and a bit disturbing and I even felt a bit cheated that I would never know how Moira ends up, how Frankie and Noel deal with the "surprise" that nearly sent him back to drinking. This novel just never feels likeit was finished properly.
I hope that eventually there will be another book similar to "Minding Frankie"; one that will follow Frankie's life, and the lives of her caretakers, as she gets older and how she deals with the bombshell that Maeve dumps on us in this book.