May 02, 2013

The Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy

I think I may have missed something. I've heard a lot about Binchy and that her books are fabulous, etc. But this was my first time reading something of hers, and I have to say, I'm not really impressed.

The Lilac Bus is a series of short stories that are all somewhat related in a way, but individual stories all the same. They involve a bus load of people that are driven from Dublin to their hometown on the weekend. In the hometown they all have their little secrets and things they're trying to cope with. The latter part of the book though deals with some other people who are living in Dublin and have issues all their own. I wish I could write a better description, but really, that's what the book is about.

Since we only get to see these people for limited amounts of time (even if they do appear in each other's stories) there is no real connection here. The first story was about a miserly girl who is finally told off for being miserly. There is a woman dealing with her drunken mother, another dealing with her drunken husband. A man who doesn't connect with his parents and can't tell them about his secret. And so forth. Everyone in this book has some kind of problem.

Yet all these problems are unresolved. For the people on the Lilac bus we only hear about their lives for the space of a weekend. The latter part of the book the stories encompass more time, but still have no resolution. It's very annoying and unsatisfying and to make it even worse, it's exceptionally depressing. There are only a few stories that ended with an upbeat note, and even then it wasn't so much upbeat as it was just average living. None of the stories are ever followed up on either so we don't know what happens. If I wanted to read unfinished stories, I would have just went to the file of documents I have on my own computer. I like to have a finish to my stories. But still, I'm giving this book at least two stars because Binchy's writing style is nice and clear and had she finished her stories, I expect they would have been good. It was the only redeeming feature of this book.

Not for me, and even though I have a couple of other books by Binchy sitting on my shelf, I may hold off on reading them as a result of having read this book.

The Lilac Bus
Copyright 1982
390 pages

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