From her earliest childhood, Maeve loved stories – and wanted to be part of them.
When her father started to read her some tale of two children wandering through a wood, she asked at once, “Where was I?”
He would say patiently, “You were sitting in a tree beside the path.” And with Maeve happily located, the story could go on.
When she grew up and became a storyteller herself, she made her readers feel that, like little Maeve in the tree, they were on the scene, among the action and the characters.
Maeve’s mind was always full of stories. In all the years we sat writing, at each end of the long desk in front of our study window, I never saw her staring
at a blank page, wondering how to start.
She plunged at the keyboard, like a swimmer into the sea, typing at breakneck speed, and without pausing to correct any errors in punctuation or spelling. If the devilish machine suddenly disappeared a page or two of text, she didn’t spend any time on technical fiddling. She said it was quicker to write the whole section again, there and then.
And the stories came to life, told with all the eagerness and enthusiasm of someone who says, “Just wait till I tell you what happened…” and goes on to tell an enthralling and often hilarious tale.
Maeve always said that she didn’t write any better if she wrote more slowly – and she talked in the same way, the words almost tumbling out in their haste to be said.
Maeve followed the advice she gave to aspiring writers – to write as you speak. Her view of the world and the people in it was the same in her writing as it was in her life: she was compassionate and perceptive, she treated everyone with the same considerate interest, and her humour was uproarious but never sneering or cruel.
Her capacity for friendship seemed limitless, and hundreds of people from all over the world, who never knew her, have written to say that they thought of her as a friend.
I can almost hear her say, “That’s enough of that! You make me sound like some kind of saint!” Indeed as a schoolgirl, sainthood was a role she considered aiming for, but decided against – partly on the grounds that it might involve martyrdom, but really because it just wasn’t her style.
We must all be glad she took on the roles she did, as teacher, writer, and friend to so many – and I above all feel specially lucky that we met, and spent so many happy and loving years together.
When I read her writing, I can hear her voice and feel she is back with us again, in all the vivacious joy she created around her. In her words, in her many novels, short stories, articles,plays and films, Maeve lives on – and always will.
Husband of Maeve Binchy