Tara Road - Maeve Binchy - Book Cover
Contemporary,  Women's Fiction

Tara Road – Maeve Binchy

When American Marilyn and Irish Ria change houses their lives will never be the same. An inspiring tale of coping with loss and finding your path in life.


Picture this: a beautiful quiet lane in Dublin, with old houses, great views and a promise hanging in the air… That is Tara Road, no wonder golden boy Danny set his heart on owning number 16. He is a dreamer and pictures a bright future in which he will mingle with the rich and influential, entertaining them on Tara Road. Growing up with an always complaining mother and sister has made Ria weary and she wants nothing more than to fall in love with Danny and follow his dreams. Their children Annie and Brian complete the happy family.


Tara Road shows us the paths they take, the friends, family and neighbours surrounding Ria as she is at her happiest in her lively and big kitchen, always deliciously smelling because of the baked goodies and many dinner preparations. Danny’s mentor is Barney McCarthy, the big, blunt businessman not afraid to take risks. Barney has a double life with his pleasant wife Mona and redhead mistress Polly and his business is booming. Danny’s financial world is heavily dependent on Barney’s.

There are more regular visitors of the house on Tara Road: Ria’s mother Nora and her sister Hilary, whose only regret is being unable to have children with her husband Martin, Gertie and her abusing husband Jackie. Then there are Orla, desperately in love with Danny, and cool and elegant Rosemary, who thrives as a businesswoman and Colin, the ex-alcoholic who is about to open a restaurant on Tara Road. You cannot but be drawn into the world Ria has created, her busy household and children, her constant care for those around her.

Prosperity thrives, Tara Road is booming and becoming part of Dublin’s finest. But dark shadows are near bringing with them secrets and betrayal. Danny is taking on too many high-risk enterprises and is often away from home, spending time with his girlfriend Bernadette. For the first time ever, Ria feels her existence threatened when an unexpected phone call offers her the opportunity of a lifetime. Thus Irish Ria and American Marilyn, both deeply hurt, bond immediately and decide to swap houses for the Summer.

They could not have been more different: Ria is affectionate, engaging everyone into her life, while Marilyn is withdrawn and recluse, afraid to let anyone near including her husband. Ria is shocked to learn that even Marilyn’s neighbours have never entered her house, Marilyn feels the same when everyone in Dublin is rallying to make her feel at home, dropping in and by whenever they want. And yet, somehow, they start to unravel their feelings, open up, learn to cope with their grief and giving it a place in their lives.

My Thoughts

Tara Road is a favourite of mine. I love the descriptions of Ireland, of the characters and the touching tale Maeve Binchy weaves. She is such an extraordinary author that you not only learn to know the different characters but also are drawn into their lives.

The protagonists, Ria and Marilyn, are strong women, each coping with their loss in their own way. Both women become stronger throughout the book – how the story ends is something you have to read for yourself! What makes this book so special for me is the feel of it, you can imagine yourself on Tara Road, sitting in that big kitchen seeing Ria put yet another baked goodie out of the oven or preparing a lovely meal.

It is a tale of happiness and loss, of kind folks and those that always will be the underdog but moreover, it is a story of real people. We travel with Ria to America and Marilyn to Dublin and watch them both picking up the pieces of their lives again.

Maeve Binchy is one of those authors who writes sympathetic, warm-hearted and pleasant tales that naturally draw you into the world she creates in her stories. You feel enriched, comforted and see the world as a lighter place when you’ve finished this book. You simply take it with you in your heart. That is what Tara Road is for me.

About the Author

Maeve Binchy worked “on the decks of cheap boats, in kibbutzim in Israel or minding children as camp counsellors” in her holidays when she was young. Her parents loved the long letters Maeve wrote home so much that they sent them to a newspaper to be published. That is how the author’s writing career started.

It makes perfect sense that Maeve Binchy fell in love with another writer, Gordon Snell, theirs is a happy marriage. After her parents, it is the author’s husband who inspired her to pursue her writing career. Maeve Binchy and her husband love Ireland and of course, that is where they live in Dalkey, situated in the same neighbourhood where the author grew up with her family close by.

Book Info

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 Pages  656
 Publisher  Orion; re-ssue ed (30 Apr 1999)
 ISBN (paperback)  9780752876863
 ASIN(e-book)  B0037471VW


  • Silvana Fertein

    Just finished this novel. I must admit I never read any book of Maeve Binchy. But after reading your review I was curious. And yes…i could imagine myself on Tara Road and on Tudor Drive. The way the author describes both houses makes one longing to swapping houses 🙂 Though had my doubts about the unexpected phonecall. I can’t imagine that i would agree -in the middle of the night-to swap houses with a total stranger who says she knows my husband! Is it a happy ending? I’m not sure. Both women became stronger and more confident than in the beginning of the story and the novel has no really an end. I think the author rather wanted an open ending to emphasize the hope, the challenges that lie ahead for all the characters in this book.
    I liked reading Tara Road and i’ll be reading more books of this wonderful author!

    • Caroline Vincent

      Thank you, Silvana! It was my first Maeve Binchy, I read it in England and I was hooked by the atmosphere and the descriptions in the book – fancy living there! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Silvana, love your review of the book!

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