I have been wanting to read this book forever since this book refers to characters that are in later Binchy novels. How I wish that I had stayed away from it. This book is 656 pages. Due to a nasty cold plus fever I had the past couple of days I wondered if perhaps I was being too harsh about this book. Then I re-read some passages and decided that no I was not. I think the biggest thing for me is that I cannot believe this was once upon a time selected as book as the month by Oprah Winfrey. I am also flabbergasted this became a movie as well. I am hoping the movie cut way down on the Ireland parts, but since there is no way I am going to sit through a movie based on this book I will just blissfully let that go.
“Tara Road” though it talks about two main characters is for all intents and purposes just about one, Ria. We follow her through graduating and going to work for a real estate firm where she ends up meeting her future husband, Danny Lynch. We follow Ria through I think at least 14-15 years where she is a stay at home mom, doing what she can to make her husband and children happy. That all changes when her husband informs her that he is ready to move onto someone else. When Ria realizes that her life as she knows it is coming to an end, she decides to house swap with an American woman named Marilyn Vine. Marilyn is also looking to get away from her home due to still trying to do her best to get over a tragedy.
Ria is pretty much a doormat from the beginning of this book to the end. If you expect to see any self awareness, it’s not there. Even after her husband has left her, Ria is still hoping for a reconciliation. Heck, it was maybe at the 99 percent mark she finally moved on from the guy. I initially felt sympathetic to Ria since you find out pretty soon that her husband was the worst from the very beginning. I think that is why the book doesn’t work honestly, or it didn’t work for me. You are just waiting for Ria to have her eyes opened to what her husband was getting up to. And then she does, and she still thinks he is the best thing ever. Even after all evidence points to the contrary.
Marilyn felt like an afterthought to me. She definitely has more backbone than Ria. But the two women’s friendship comes out of nowhere for me and I thought it a bit much for them to behave as if they are best friends forever at the end of the book.
Secondary characters (man there are a ton) were pretty shallow. Ria’s sister is jealous, Ria’s daughter is pretty much a brat, Ria’s son is clueless, Ria’s best friend is terrible, etc. I just felt like the book went on and on and you don’t see any growth at all except in the case of Ria’s daughter finally catching a clue. I really hated Ria’s best friend Rosemary and her other friend who was in an abusive marriage. The book just painted them in broad strokes and I really didn’t understand what I was supposed to take away from these two characters at all.
The writing was typical Binchy, but after a while my eyes started to glaze. Way too much of this book was about Ria shopping for furniture to do up her new house, wallpaper, rugs, how rooms and kitchens looked, etc.
The flow was lopsided too. Once you figure out what is going on in the book most of it was just me waiting for everyone else to catch up too.
I usually love Binchy novels. However, I realize that the earlier novels are never my cup of tea. They are way too long (this one is very long) and there always seems to be a lack of development or closure to the books. This one had a very abrupt ending and I hated that a guilty party was never confronted in the way that I thought they should have been. I read “Quentins” before and I do know that Ria ends up in that book as well, and you do hear about what becomes of her. But after reading this book and knowing what happens to her in “Quentins” I felt really dissatisfied. Probably because I think her happy ending as it is shown was pretty bogus.