Wednesday 21 February 2018

Maeve's hidden treasure a festive treat for readers

Maeve Binchy
Maeve Binchy
Maeve Binchy

John Spain

Today marks the second anniversary of Maeve Binchy's death but her popularity with readers lives on and appears to be as strong as ever.

We lost Ireland's best-loved writer on July 30, 2012, but her millions of fans around the world have continued to buy her books.

During her lifetime she sold well over 40 million copies, making her the best-selling Irish writer of all time, well ahead of James Joyce and our other great literary names.

Since her death her books have been selling so well that the figure for her total sales is now likely to be closer to 50 million, with a new generation of readers discovering some of her early classic titles like 'Circle of Friends'.

Three new books by Maeve Binchy have been published since her death in 2012 and all of them have been bestsellers in both hardback and paperback.

'A Week in Winter' and 'Chestnut Street', both collections of interlinked short stories, shot to the No 1 spot on publication, and 'Maeve's Times', a collection of newspaper articles written by Maeve, is currently a No 1 bestseller in paperback.

Her publishers, Orion, will be bringing out a Christmas gift edition of 'Chestnut Street' this winter with a seasonal cover.

'Chestnut Street', which appeared in hardback in April, has been on the bestseller lists all summer, with Maeve's millions of fans conscious that this was her last book.

It came as a surprise, because when she died in the summer of 2012, she had left behind only one book, 'A Week in Winter', which she had just completed.

That was published in 2012 and was an international bestseller that Christmas.

At that point Maeve's many fans had resigned themselves to a future without her magical storytelling. But she had one final surprise hidden away.

Over the years, she had developed a habit of writing stories; then, putting the story in the drawer "for the future", she would tell her husband and fellow writer Gordon Snell.

The stories featured a number of different characters who all lived on an imaginary street in Dublin called 'Chestnut Street'.

Every once in a while, between other projects, Maeve would get an idea and write a story about one of these people.

After her death, Gordon rediscovered the drawer of forgotten stories – the collection became 'Chestnut Street'.

The special Christmas edition of this book will appear in November.

Irish Independent

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