It’s the stuff of dreams – Costa Del Sol, the waves gently lapping against the shore, shades and cream on, wifi off and a Maeve Binchy novel in your hands. If that’s your idea of ultimate relaxation, you’re not alone. The queen of Irish popular fiction sold over 40 million books in her lifetime, appeared on Oprah, had lunch with the First Lady and warmed the hearts of readers worldwide. She has been greatly missed in the five years since her passing, and the loss must be most keenly felt by her husband of 35 years, Gordon Snell, who joined Marian Finucane on her programme. “You were closer in some ways than most married couples,” says Marian, as he and Maeve worked together in the one room. “Has it been very difficult for you?”
“The house is so much our joint house that I still have the feeling of Maeve there. It was always a house we made our own as a couple so that feeling hasn’t gone.”
Having two writers under one roof certainly has its benefits, as the pair could act as a sounding board for the other’s work, but there was strict protocol in place.
“We had this rule, we would read each other’s output… usually we liked the work very much but occasionally we would have some doubts about it. The rule was you always had to be totally honest… The rule after that was you were allowed ten minutes sulking time… and you could come back and say, either you might have a point, I’ll think about it, or else no, I think it’s alright, I’ll leave it as it is.”
Marian was also joined by Peter Sheridan, director of Minding Frankie, an adaptation of Maeve’s novel that opened in the Gaiety Theatre this week. This is the first time Maeve’s work has ever appeared on stage. The pair knew each other since 1988 when they had collaborated during Dublin’s millennium celebrations, and he is a big fan of her work.
“Maeve had a touch in terms of her writing and characterization… She just had stories pouring out of her pores… she just had that thing in her DNA. She had that ability to tell stories and write stories as she spoke”
Minding Frankie, adapted for theatre by Shay Lenihan, deals with a new dad literally left holding the baby, and it’s a subject that’s close to Sheridan’s heart.
“I used to push the pram through town… the looks I got were unbelievable in the early seventies… These are kind of the issues that Minding Frankie deals with. They deal with a perception of maleness that is really revealing.”
Minding Frankie runs at the Gaiety Theatre until July 17th.
Click here for the full interview.
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