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Circle of Friends

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  40,365 Ratings  ·  1,311 Reviews
It began with Benny Hogan and Eve Malone, growing up, inseparable, in the village of Knockglen. Benny—the only child, yearning to break free from her adoring parents...Eve—the orphaned offspring of a convent handyman and a rebellious blueblood, abandoned by her mother's wealthy family to be raised by nuns. Eve and Benny—they knew the sins and secrets behind every villager' ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published October 1st 1991 by Dell (first published 1990)
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Best Feminist Fiction
215th out of 1,016 books — 2,181 voters
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251st out of 463 books — 194 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Holly
I confess to loving what we at the bookstore used to consider "old lady novels." You know, written by nice old ladies, and featuring stock characters such as "Comfortable old lady who smells like violets," "Troubled young boy who will probably run away, thus becoming the catalyst to resolve the troubles of his father, who is..." "Bitter middle aged widower who just needs a little lovin'," and "Beautiful woman who provides said lovin'."

Well, I've moved on from Rosamunde Pilcher, though The Shell
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Tea Jovanović
May 01, 2013 Tea Jovanović rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Nažalost, Mev je prošlog leta preminula i ostali smo bez najtoplije irske autorke... Njene knjige plene toplinom i pričama o običnim ljudima i njihovim sudbinama... Knjige za one od 12-100 godina...

Ovo je priča o dve devojčice iz male varošice u Irskoj i njihovom odrastanju... Veoma uspešno je i ekranizovana... A moram da se pohvalim da sam tokom prevoda pronašla dve materijalne greške u originalu i da sam prva posle 35 izdanja koja je ta knjiga imala na engleskom i posle svih engleskih urednik
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Sondang
Jul 22, 2007 Sondang rated it it was amazing
Still one of my favourite books. Best written book ever. Okey, I love Maeve Binchy, but this book is smashing. I love it from the first until the last page.
You'll love all the characters, especially the friendship between Benny and Eve. And eventhough you loathes Nan's behavior, somehow you'll understand her. You'll fall in love very quickly at Jack Folley, and as soon as that you'll find yourself annoyed by his taken-for-granted-act- to our lovable Benny.
As other's Maeve writing, it's all detai
...more
Lisa
Nov 01, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable story predominantly following two young girls who grow up together in a small town in Ireland. The story mainly focuses on when they go to University together in Dublin and encompasses the story of their friends there and in their home town.
It's a family saga with plenty going on and loveable characters. I listened to this on audio and it was beautifully narrated - a lovely heart warming story.
Trish at Between My Lines
Do you have a favourite pair of old jeans? Worn to death, washed to that perfect comfortable feel, not the latest edgy trendy cut and colour but still a firm favourite. They are a perfect fit and make you feel good. Ones you pull out and wear time after time? Circle of Friends is the book equivalent of those jeans for me. Around forever, radiating warmth, full of humour and with a gossipy, uplifting plot. Yes, it’s another of my comfort books.

Big hearted, generous Benny is the main character. Fr
...more
Engy Moussa
Nov 30, 2012 Engy Moussa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never before an author managed to keep me awake all night and hours beyond sun rise to finish their novel.
But Binchy did! And she did it twice.. Once about two years ago with The Glass Lake when I stayed with the book in my hand all night until 8 in the morning when I finally finished it AND yesterday as I stayed in bed from 11:30 till almost 7 in the morning with the little lamp guiding my eyes page after page as I impatiently yet gladly follow Binchy's plots..
No praise a humble reading like my
...more
Sara
Jul 09, 2008 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sara by: Jen Pawlowski
The best part about this book was the characters and how well they are portrayed. Everyone had thier own distinct personality and thier personality shown through as if Binchy were writing about people she's known her whole life.

I personally found the storyline a little slow for my liking, and it took me a long time to get through this book. However, it was well written and I enjoyed it. The character of Nan fascinated me the most. I've known girls like her, so poise and perfect in every way... d
...more
Jan
Mar 02, 2015 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I debated. four stars? five stars? I really liked this story about two girls who grow up in a small town and go to college in Dublin. Benny and Eve are fierce friends in a circle of friends who contain some who are not so true in the end. Is it a perfect book? Probably not. Did I enjoy it? Yes! The moral lines are subtle, but they are there. All the characters are fully drawn and the plot kept me reading - quite late on the night I finished it.

Janet Lynch
Feb 21, 2016 Janet Lynch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This novel is not great literature. I chose it as a cozy book to read at bedtime to fall asleep. It was slow and not very interesting, but doing what I expected of it: putting me to sleep. Then on page 336 (of 599) I sat up and paid attention! Really? He thinks that of her? An undesirable character who hopes to marry a girl to improve his business prospects has such a low opinion of her that he can’t fathom another man having an interest in her! From then on, I read this book whenever I could an ...more
Lissa
Mar 13, 2011 Lissa rated it really liked it
I found a hard-cover version of Circle of Friends on my mother's bookcase one summer during high school. I read it through in less than two days, took it with me to college, and re-read it so many times over the net few years that the binding eventually gave out. I didn't replace it, figuring that I had every page memorized.

The characters -- Benny Hogan, Eve Malone, Mother Francis, Peggy Pine, Mr. and Mrs. Hogan, Patsy, Sean Walsh, the Kennedys and Healys and Johnsons, Clodaugh, Mario and Fonsie
...more
Antof9
Jan 02, 2009 Antof9 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book not reviewed right after reading. Here's all I have:

I knew that I wanted to write more on this lovely book, but that it would take some time and thought. Unfortunately, now, I have allowed too much time to pass, and can't remember much of what I wanted to write! *ack*

What I do remember is that I found it fascinating to read this book while picturing the actress Minnie Driver as Benny. I loved having a face for her! And this book was truly enjoyable. In fact, if I had another copy on
...more
Jenna St Hilaire
Nov 02, 2011 Jenna St Hilaire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friend Elizabeth bought this book for me, saying that Binchy’s writing is peaceful, relaxing and enjoyable to read. It is that. But I also had to stay up reading it till three A.M. in desperate suspense.

It wasn’t due to relentless pacing or swift-moving prose. Binchy’s writing career apparently began before the modern outcry against things like the passive verb and the third person omniscient voice. Her brief sentences and snappy dialogue generally kept the scenes from dragging, though, and I
...more
Amanda
Aug 21, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The joy of a Maeve Binchy novel - and Circle of Friends is no exception (in fact, is probably the best example of this) - is that you are utterly drawn into the lives of the characters. Binchy doesn't concern herself with a clever plot (here, the essence of the plot is that Benny and Eve head off to university in Dublin, and deals with the repercussions of what happens after this); rather, she wants to describe how her characters deal with life. There are never lengthy descriptions of place - di ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
More like 2.5. I was feeling in the mood to read something cozy and glurge-y that I didn't need to use much brainpower to read. So something made me think of this. I suspect it was seeing the third of the Dark Knight Batman films, and being reminded of the previous series of Batman films. Yes, there is a connection — Batman Forever featured Chris O'Donnell as Robin, and in the movie version of this book (which came out in the same year) he played the male lead. (For a while he was a major teen h ...more
Kathleen Thomas
Jan 10, 2013 Kathleen Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who just likes a plain nice story
I love love love Binchy's novels Circle of Friends still being my favorite and I have read it numerous times. This is long story of a friendship and love and loss, there are no lapses or lulls. Benny, plain daughter of a merchant, and Eve, a proud orphan raised by nuns, are close friends growing up in the Irish village of Knockglen in the 1950s. When they go to university in Dublin together, their loyalty is tested by the addition of others to their circle, most notably the beautiful, mysterious ...more
Kelly
Mar 26, 2015 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-or-borrowed
My sister and my mom have been telling me for some time to read this author. My daughter had to read this book for her English class this quarter and then lent it to me. I was a bit intimidated by the fact that it was almost 600 pages, as I am a busy mom of 4. However, I could not put it down! I loved it. The characters are so rich and real. The story lines are interesting and intriguing. I was a bit disappointed with the ending, but I understood it, and it didn't anger me. It certainly didn't f ...more
Faith
Mar 09, 2015 Faith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Irish comfort food! Re-read this for Book Club after many years. Forgot how much I enjoyed it and how wonderful a writer Binchy was. I love characters that are so real you empathize with them through all their ups and downs. Very different from the movie, but that was also very enjoyable as I recall. A lengthy book, but a fast read and even minor characters are fully developed and memorable. Perfect read on a dreary day ( and we have had far too many of those this winter!) with a nice cup of hot ...more
Mary Kate
May 27, 2015 Mary Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How very nice this book was!

I'm not going to lie, when I saw the title, which is just nauseatingly cheesy, I did not think I would enjoy this book. I did not have high hopes. But it turned out to be such a pleasant and comforting read! These characters were lovely. I wish I could have Benny and Eve for friends. They seem wonderful.

It was cleverly constructed, too, as a book. It is really rather long, nearly six hundred pages, but Binchy gets around that in two ways that I noticed. The first way
...more
Nicole
Mar 26, 2015 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub, z-2015-read
I really enjoyed this book! I love historical fiction and I think she did well with it. I found the characters very interesting, a little more so than some of her other books. It moved at a nice pace and I responded positively to how each paragraph frequently dealt with another set of characters so that you could envision the events occurring simultaneously. Well done!
Francesca
Dec 06, 2013 Francesca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable story, we read what happens in this group of friends and it's really entertaining. Some characters are really nice others....................it's a good 'portrait' of life, maybe the book is a bit too long!
Lisa Cunningham
Feb 22, 2014 Lisa Cunningham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't quite as good as "Tara Road" but you're sure to enjoy the interesting characters, especially the women, in this book. Benny and Eve are best friends who only become friends after Benny's mother asks her to invite the loner Eve to her 12th birthday party. We quickly move ahead to their first year away from home and the guys who become their boyfriends.

Benny has her first love and has to deal with Jack's casual attitude toward women. Eve meets family that never cared if she existed.

Alt
...more
Shanu
Mar 05, 2016 Shanu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Riot's 2016 READ HARDER CHALLENGE (10/24) : Read a book over 500 pages long

I watched the 1995 movie adaptation and since i liked the story enough, i thought i should give the book a try as well.

After reading the book, i can only say that the movie adaptation was great, especially because it skipped all the boring parts and the meaningless side-characters.
I've never read any Binchy before, but i heard she has a reputation to pack her books with way too many characters. Circle of friends wa
...more
SK
Jan 19, 2016 SK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Circle of Friends was my first Binchy. I'd seen the movie when that came out in 1995 and was a little in love with Minnie Driver and her awkward-striving-to-be-a-good-daughter-ness. The scene in the movie where Benny (Minnie Driver) is exasperated with her parents and exclaims: "I don't know why you let me go to University. It's like taking me to the top of the mountain and showing me the world, and then marching me back down, and saying, "That's what you can't have Benny, you silly great fat ar ...more
Victor Carson
I have read several of Maeve Binchy's other books, including Raising Frankie, A Week in Winter, and Full House, and read this older novel at the recommendation of my sister. I enjoyed Circle of Friends, which is set in and around Dublin in the mid-1950's. I grew up in the U.S. in the following decade of the 1960's. My mother was second-generation Irish and I do understand some of the Irish family life and their way of telling stories. Circle of Friends follows two girls who grow up in a small un ...more
Melissa Rochelle
How do you write a review of one of your favorite novels without just gushing about how much you love it? I've loved this book for years & read it many times -- it was the first Maeve Binchy book I read( it definitely wasn't the last). I went on to read pretty much everything she wrote. (It was in the days of large mass market paperback selections at KMart and for whatever reason they had all of Ms. Binchy's novels.) I let someone borrow my much-read copy of that 1990s Circle of Friends mmp, ...more
Caroline Eising
Another story of intertwined lives, but this time set in 1950s Ireland. The changing cultural values as the 60s are creeping closer, but the restrictions of class and background often come into play, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of small town living. The characters in the story are varied, and while there aren't any hugely surprising twists in the story, nothing really ended up as I expected. This is a good thing, as I hate cookie-cutter characters or plot lines. I was genuinely interes ...more
Jennifer
Feb 07, 2013 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon
Oct 14, 2010 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While reading the book Circle of Friends, I happen to be very bored. The author went into too much depth of unnecessary subjects in the story. If the author hadn’t written as much as she did, then I might have a better appreciation for the book. However, the characters of the story were very depressing. Each and every character had a sad tragic story that followed them. From these tragic events, the people took the wrong path and or made the wrong choices. Which then made the book less interesti ...more
Jennifer Johnson
If you look at my bookshelf you'll notice that I really like Maeve Binchy, I've read a lot of her books. Her stories aren't wildy romantic, they aren't full of crazy events- in fact you could describe them as rather bland. For whatever reason though, I really enjoy reading them. It's a comforting read and on a cold day they make me feel warm on the inside, a little bit like chicken soup. (And since I really, really loathe the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books, it's good that I have something tha ...more
Diane Lynch
The story of a circle of friends

This is a compelling story of a girl, Benny, growing up and coming of age in the 1950's on the outskirts of Dublin and in Dublin. A small town girl and her best friend Eve live in the same small town but are opposites in every way possible. The heart of the story takes place at University in Dublin. These two small town girls grow up in their first year of college. They are part of a large group
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Maeve Binchy was born on 28 May 1940 in Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland, the eldest child of four. Her parents were very positive and provided her with a happy childhood. Although she described herself as an overweight child, her parents' attitude gave her the confidence to accept herself for who she was.

She studied at University College Dublin and was a teacher for a while. She also loved travelin
...more
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“Eve showed Aidan how to rake the range. “I think when we’re married we might have something more modern,” he grumbled. “No, surely with the eight children we can have them stoking it, going up the chimney even.” 2 likes
“Who knows what light housework means? One nun’s light could be another nun’s penal servitude.” 2 likes
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