Synopses & Reviews
Maeve Binchy has captured the hearts of readers with her spectacular national bestsellers Circle of Friends, The Glass Lake, and This Year It Will be Different. Now she dazzles us once again with a new novel that is filled with her signature warmth, wit, and unforgettable characters--a powerful, moving tale of ordinary men and women whose quiet lives hide the most unexpected things.
Aidan Dunne, a Dublin Latin teacher, always meant to go back to the Italy he visited as a youth. But as the years passed, he concentrated instead on the usual struggles of daily life, like vying for the job of headmaster at his school, keeping memories of Italy in the back corners of his mind. At forty-eight, emotionally distanced from his wife, baffled by his two grown daughters, Aidan Dunne might have given up entirely if it hadn't been for the evening class. His class. A class called Introduction to Italian. A class where people from every walk of life come together. A class where long-buried hopes come alive again.
The teacher is Signora, a vivacious, eccentric woman with an irrepressible nature and a buried past. Her real name is Nora O'Donoghue, a Dublin native who abandoned Ireland decades before to follow her mysterious lover to Italy. Having defied her parents' Catholic conventions, she ended up in a village where tradition dictated everything--including how a woman could love or grieve. Now, as she meets Aidan Dunne and the men and women who come together each Tuesday and Thursday night, Signora begins to learn their secrets and their dreams. And slowly she transforms each of their lives.
Suddenly Aidan Dunne's last chance, his evening class has become a place of intrigue and revelation. Here Bill, a reliable bank clerk, uncovers the hidden source of his fiancee Lizzie's outrageous behavior. Teenage Kathy, slow at day school but bright as a button with Signora, is coming close to realizing a devastating truth about her family. Streetwise Lou, his tuition paid by a crime boss, has his own agenda for the group. And mousy Fiona decides to meddle in a married man's illicit affair--with repercussions for everyone, including Signora and Aidan Dunne.
In writing that is wise and evocative, powerful and moving, Maeve Binchy brings to life a story of families and lovers, of unrealized passions and moments of triumph, of wounds made by caring too much, or not caring at all. And in Evening Class she shows us the power of a dream to expand horizons, and transform clerks and schoolteachers into heroes.