MINDING FRANKIE by Maeve Binchy

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Read by Sile Bermingham

Emily is a middle aged woman with no real ties to America after her father, an alcoholic, passes on, so she decides to take an extended trip to visit her aunt and uncle in Dublin. Their son Noel is living at home and spending his days working in an office, sneaking drinks before lunch, and wandering aimlessly through life. But he really likes Emily, everyone does, and in her very subtle way she starts steering him towards the future.

Then he hears from Stella, a girl he barely remembers since all they did was drink and party together. She informs him that she is dying of cancer and oh, by the way, she’s pregnant with his child. After denial comes acceptance, and Stella puts his name on the birth certificate and asks that he raise her daughter, Frankie. Noel can barely take care of himself, but he agrees to become the baby’s guardian.

Emily helps him find a place to live and offers to pay if he’ll enroll in college. There he meets Lisa, a graphic designer with a serious crush on Anton, a celebrity-chef wannabe. After some trouble at home, Lisa ends up moving in with Noel and helping out with Frankie while trying to make herself indispensable to Anton and quitting her job in the process.

Noel joins AA and falls in love with his daughter. A ferocious social worker, Moirer, is assigned to his case, and everyone in town is petrified that she will take Frankie away from him. His parents help out, and all his friends and neighbors in the area where he grew up are eager to help mind Frankie. Her first year of life she is surrounded by people who love her, and Noel sorts out his life.

There is a cast of quirky yet lovable characters of the sort that often frequent Binchy’s novels. I haven’t read her for a while, and listening to this book was a delight. Bermingham’s narration with all the different accents – American, Irish, even Australian, adds even more depth to this charming story. I have a short commute, so I found myself listening at home while doing the dishes and so forth. This was one of the longer audio books I’ve listened to, and I really enjoyed every minute of it.

9/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MINDING FRANKIE by Maeve Binchy. Anchor (December 27, 2011). ISBN 978-0307475497. 512p.
Downloadable: Audible Audio Edition. Random House Audio. Listening Length: 13 hours and 23 minutes. ASIN: B004Q3G4EI.

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