Reviewed by Julie Failla Earhart
Maeve Binchy’s latest outing, The Builders, received little if any attention from the critics and bestseller lists. Maybe because it was commissioned to be part of GemmaMedia’s Open Door Series, which was “first designed to enhance adult literacy in Ireland, these books affirm the truth that a story doesn’t have to be big to open the world.” The Builders isn’t a big book. At a scant eighty-seven pages, it’s more of a long short story than a novella.
Nan Ryan has been separated from her husband for more than twenty years. She worked hard during those years to make sure that her three children weren’t lacking for material goods. Now that she has retired, Nan misses getting out and about. Oh yes, the children do come to visit, but it seems like whenever they come over, there is a reason.
Her oldest, Jo, has a high-powered career and equally high-powered husband. The middle child, Bobby, lives with a raging feminist who refuses to do his laundry. So Nan does her son’s washing and ironing. Pat is an insecure, shy daughter who installs alarm systems and worries that her mother will be burglarized.
The house next door to Nan’s has been empty for two years. Now there are workmen there re-doing the place.
Nan ventures out to meet the contractor, Derek Doyle. A spark files between the two and before long, Derek is spending his evenings with Nan. When Derek and the crew find a diary stashed in the kitchen of the remodeling job, the secrets of the couple who formerly lived there begin to unravel, as does Nan.
The Builder is pure Binchy, however. A great, quick read that left this reader more than eager for the next Binchy novel to be published.
Armchair Interviews agrees: Another 5-star offering from Binchy.