Sunday 21 October 2018

Donal Lynch: Maeve stirred up love with a long spoon . . .

She was held in great affection, but even in Ireland the compliments could be backhanded, writes Donal Lynch

AMID the outpourings of grief last week it's notable, if unsurprising, that the majority of tributes to Maeve Binchy came from ordinary women.

She emerged, after all, from what was then sniffily referred to as 'the women's pages' of journalism, and wrote books that were understood to be primarily for nanas, aunties and mammies.

In a country where women were, to a greater or lesser extent, still patronised this was understood to also mean that the works had lesser literary merit. Even as Binchy became a publishing giant, eclipsing, in terms of sales, every one of her male contemporaries this fact, far from being proof that she was deserving of respect, proved to her critics that she was merely guilty of a second crime: she was a woman and a populist.

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