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Tara Road

by Maeve Binchy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,051482,233 (3.65)49
Ria and Marilyn have never met - they live thousands of miles apart, separated by the Atlantic Ocean: one in a big, warm, Victorian house in Tara Road, Dublin, the other in a modern, open-plan house in New England. Two more unlikely friends would be hard to find: Ria's life revolves around her family and friends, while Marilyn's reserve is born of grief. But when each needs a place to escape to, a house exchange seems the ideal solution. Along with the borrowed houses come neighbours and friends, gossip and speculation as Ria and Marilyn swap lives for the summer...… (more)
  1. 00
    A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (thea-block)
    thea-block: Common themes and tones run throughout both stories: home-town feel; descriptions of the lifetimes of somewhat ordinary/somewhat extraordinary people; love and loss, regret and gratefulness, parents and children.
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» See also 49 mentions

English (43)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
This is now the second book I have read by Maeve Binchy. The first was a shortish one about a restaurant - Quentins, which one of my sisters said was very light. She was right; it was lightweight, easy to read, a simple story that reminded me of the works of Alexander McCall Smith. I figured, when I saw this one, that I'd give it a try, that perhaps a longer book would have more depth.

In a way it does. Certainly we get to know the main character, Ria, fairly well. And we get a pretty good sense of the others. The story is about Ria and her husband Danny. Danny is the love of Ria's life. She knows that he has a way of charming everyone, and that sometimes the cheer he emanates is not quite real. He works for a developer, sells homes, and enjoys the good life. Ria and Danny started their life together in an old run-down house in a good location on Tara Road, and worked hard to improve it. In time they are living in a fine large house that suggests they are rich. Certainly they reach a point where they can do what they want.

Comes a time when Danny's boss Barney is making another deal and he needs another bit of collateral, and he asks Danny and Ria to sign over their house. Trusting Barney to make a good profit, they do so. Ria is a little concerned but hides the concern in favor of showing a united front, that she trusts Danny's judgment.

Ria is a friendly person, very neighborly and often helpful. She is in some ways "innocent", not likely to look for suspicious behavior or to believe the worst about anyone.

Thus she is shocked to find that Danny has been having an affair with a young woman, not much older than their older son. And he wants to leave Ria for her.

Ria has difficulty with the concept. Surely Danny will return to her. She fantasizes about it. At the same time, though, she recognizes that others will be giving her pitying looks if she continues her life on Tara Road, so she makes a sudden decision to get away for a few months.

This might be called Part II, as it brings another woman into Ria's house while she stays in hers in the United States. And we get to watch new relationships form. Both women are suffering from different bad events in their families. The change in location brings about changes in the women.

It is a sweet story, easy to read. Not too cloying, but a bit too "easy" for my taste. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
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. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
This book is a little different from Binchy's usual in that part of it takes place in the USA. Ria Lynch from Tara Road, Dublin exchanges houses with Marilyn Vine of a college town in Connecticut. From the inside cover "They borrow each other's houses, and during the course of that magical summer they find themselves borrowing something of each other's lives, until a story which began with loss and suffering grows into a story of discovery, unexpected friendships and new hope. By the time Ria and Marilyn eventually meet, they find that they have altered the course of each other's lives forever." This is a good read. ( )
  gypsysmom | May 10, 2018 |
Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

The only deadly sin that was not addressed was, perhaps, gluttony (but even the sister's heroin addiction may have been the candidate.) All the lies, deceit and half-truths bring our heroine to her new endeavor -a life without her husband, starting a new business with the help of her "best friend."

Danny never rang true with me....doubtful that he will be true to Bernadette, either. Rosemary, for all of her prowess in the business world, how she could live with herself as Ria's best friend and Danny's paramour?

Ria is so naïve and gullible. The best thing she did was agree to the house vacation with Marilyn. It is important to realize that you are your own person, not just a mother, wife or friend first.

It was 600+ pages of a soap opera. Thank goodness, it's over! ( )
  sraelling | Feb 2, 2018 |
I enjoyed this book, sat up late to finish it, yet I don't think I'll want to read it again.

Binchy spends the first half of the book setting up the background to the story, showing us the characters as they become friends through their jobs and gradually get married and have children. The crisis then comes when Ria's husband leaves her for another women - something that took her totally by surprise as she hadn't even realised he was having an affair.

While shell-shocked by this discovery, she is contacted out of the blue by an American woman wanting to do a house swap for a couple of months. Marilyn has her own personal crisis to deal with and needs to get away from everything.

Getting to know each other's friends/family and live in a new setting for a while helps both women take a fresh look at their lives and find ways to move forward.

Binchy's characters are neither wimps nor superwomen. They are women who choose to take control of their lives and do the best that they are able.

One of the good things about this novel is that the 'other woman' and her mother are not demonized. Ria's children actually get on with them in spite of intending to dislike them. ( )
  JudithProctor | Sep 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Binchy, Maeveprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Binchy, KateReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dellepiane Rawson, Alicia ElviraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mons, AnnetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prummer-Lehmair, ChristaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schermer-Rauwolf, GerlindeÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weiß, Robert A.Übersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wollermann, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my dearest Gordon, with all my love
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Ria's mother had always been very fond of film stars.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Ria and Marilyn have never met - they live thousands of miles apart, separated by the Atlantic Ocean: one in a big, warm, Victorian house in Tara Road, Dublin, the other in a modern, open-plan house in New England. Two more unlikely friends would be hard to find: Ria's life revolves around her family and friends, while Marilyn's reserve is born of grief. But when each needs a place to escape to, a house exchange seems the ideal solution. Along with the borrowed houses come neighbours and friends, gossip and speculation as Ria and Marilyn swap lives for the summer...

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