Everyone needs to drop what they are doing and go order a copy of this book here. It’s a book you are going to want to read over and over. Yes, that is how much I love this book. As soon as I finished Circle of Friends, it skyrocketed to the very top of my favorite book list. Allow me to get into the reasons why I love this book so much.
Written by the ever so talented, Maeve Binchy, Circle of Friends focuses on a group of college students living in Dublin and surrounding areas. The book was written in the 90’s and takes place in the 50’s. I found it listed on Goodreads as “Chick lit”, “Romance”, and “Period Pieces”, and while it is a period piece, there is almost nothing of this book that dates it. In a word, it is timeless. It could have been a book about any group of friends, in any time period, and in any part of the world. I also don’t feel like “Chick lit” does it justice. Although it is a chick lit novel, and a romance as well, it is also so much more than that.
Every character in this story came to life. That includes the secondary, tertiary, and quaternary characters. Even the character who dies at the beginning of the book has his own little story to go along with his character (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler alert, his death is the catalyst that brings our circle of friends together). Nothing in this book was meaningless or without purpose. Every single detail tied into the next, flawlessly.
Let us begin with the character of Eve Malone. She is the friend everyone wishes they had; honest, witty, and fiercely loyal. She is part of a duo of main characters (the other main character being named Benny Hogan who we will get to next) and if Benny is ice–calm, nice, friendly–then Eve is fire–bold, fearless, and hot-tempered. So rarely do you see a character written as truly and honestly as Eve, let alone a female character! I found myself cheering her on with tears in my eyes several times during this read.
Benny Hogan is truly the main character of the story, and second to Eve is an adorably relatable character. A dumpy girl from the country, big boned and awkward, she captured my heart almost immediately. Throughout the novel, her connection to food hit home for me, as I’m sure it did for many other readers. She is the awkward little girl in each of us, vulnerable, genuine, and affable, Benny is well liked by every person she encounters, and no doubt by every reader as well.
These two girls go off to study in Dublin, leaving their small town behind (or at least during the week when they have class). They soon form a circle of friends with Jack Foley, one of the most sought-after boys on campus, and Nan Mahon, a deviously gorgeous girl who is always used to getting her way. Throughout the story, we follow this circle of friends through bumbling romances, heated arguments, personal grief, and selfish vices. Each character must bare their own crosses; Benny must endure the creepy Sean Walsh who is trying to become a partner in her father’s business and who has a penchant for most unwanted advances on Benny; Eve Malone must settle some business with Simon Westward, an estranged cousin from a family who abandoned her; Jack Foley must learn that his actions have heartbreaking consequences; Nan Mahon must try and fix her selfish plan gone wrong; and Mr. Flood must battle with his visions of nuns in trees, nuns that are not actually there!
Will Benny thwart the creepy Sean Walsh and stand up for her family business? Will Eve’s temper get the best of her and ruin the only connection she has to a true family? Will Jack learn from his mistakes? Will Nan solve her problem? Will Mr. Flood stop seeing the nuns in the tree?!
Should you read it:
Um yes. 110%. Yes. Yass. Si. Ja. Hai. Da. Oui. Do it. You will enjoy it! It’s such a good novel you could write essays about the character development and intertwining plot lines.