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Light a Penny Candle

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  14,198 Ratings  ·  569 Reviews
Evacuated from Blitz-battered London, shy and genteel Elizabeth White is sent to stay with the boisterous O'Connors in Kilgarret, Ireland. It is the beginning of an unshakeable bond between Elizabeth and Aisling O'Connor, a friendship which will endure through twenty turbulent years of change and chaos, joy and sorrow, soaring dreams and searing betrayals...

Writing with wa
Paperback, 832 pages
Published May 4th 2006 by Arrow (first published 1982)
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Marisa I read this novel first when I was 16. It is a true saga of teen age girls so there is talk of kissing, sex, etc. Binchy never goes into detail. It is…moreI read this novel first when I was 16. It is a true saga of teen age girls so there is talk of kissing, sex, etc. Binchy never goes into detail. It is written for a mature audience based on content (war, abortion, etc) and vocab(less)

Community Reviews

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Tea Jovanović
Mar 24, 2013 Tea Jovanović rated it it was amazing
Ovo je prvi roman Mev Binči a ujedno i prvi koji sam pročitala... Ovom knjigom me je "kupila" i zadržala doživotno... :)
Sue Evans
Oct 01, 2007 Sue Evans rated it liked it
This was my first Binchy and I absolutely loved it until the last couple of chapters.
I felt perhaps since this was Binchy's first published book, maybe she struggled with how to end it. The main characters seemed to be "out of character" in the last few chapters and a lot of the way it ended didn't fit with the rest of the story.
May 12, 2013 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Wow. This was…not what I expected from Maeve Binchy’s debut novel. I have read and enjoyed many Maeve Binchy’s works before this (I just counted - looks like I’ve read 15!), and I enjoyed most of this one, but was slightly disappointed by the ending. It felt like a rather more dark work than I was anticipating.

It was quite long - over 800 pages - but an easy read, chronicling the lives of 2 young girls as they grow up together during the war, turn into young women on opposite sides of the Irish
Jul 06, 2012 Carol rated it liked it
I know all kinds of women who read Maeve Binchy. Friends and relatives all like her.


I think its partly because she writes so well about the Irish. She has a knack for showing what Irish Catholics do, believe in, think about etc.

“Light a Penny Candle” begins in the 1940's and ends in 1959. It tells of a very different era from our own. Now we counsel women to leave their alcoholic and violent husbands; then, Irish Catholic mothers told their daughters that it was their duty to stay with such
Apr 08, 2009 Meghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find it hard to objectively review or even rate any of Maeve Binchy's books. I don't pick up any of her novels with the intent of exploring some deep philosophical or cultural questions. Instead, I approach each of her novels as an imaginary journey, a very long movie that plays out through words. The characters she creates in all of her novels are both realistic and engaging and Light a Penny Candle is no exception. Once again, I found myself breezing through the pages, so desperate to find o ...more
Nicholas During
I was pretty disappointed in this book overall. It starts off well, and I was at first enjoying it a lot. But though the writing has energy and drive, the themes never are really given their due, the characters are introduced and barely slip out of a form character for the rest of the novel (which is meant to be 20 years of their lives), there isn't really any consequences to their actions, and I felt like the whole things was a bit shallow.

But rather than being totally negative I'll note the t
Dec 31, 2008 Ann rated it it was ok
I found this a very slow read and terribly predictable. All the characters were one-dimensional, either very good or very bad. And there wasn't a single likable male character. The ending was just ridiculous; solving problems by killing off the source of the problem. Most Maeve Binchy stories have much more interesting plots than this one. I am surprised that so many readers loved it.
Aug 22, 2008 Cindy rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time.
Sep 15, 2015 Hannie rated it really liked it
Hoewel dit boek wel iets anders is dan de andere boeken van Maeve Binchy die ik tot nu toe heb gelezen, heb ik er wel van genoten en vind ik het jammer dat het uit is. Het boek is iets minder vrolijk dan haar andere. Nu zat ik zelf ook in een wat minder vrolijke periode vanwege een overlijden. Dus wellicht paste het boek daarom wel bij mijn stemming. Het verhaal draait om Elizabeth. Je volgt haar leven, dat begint als een jong meisje dat vanwege de Tweede Wereldoorlog naar een gezin in Ierland w ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Diana rated it it was amazing
It's 1940s & Hitler is planning his war on England. To protect their 10 year old daughter Elizabeth, George White and his wife send her to Kilgarret, Ireland. Taken in by her mother's old school friend, Eileen O'Connor, & her husband Sean, Elizabeth quickly becomes inseparable from their vivacious daughter Aisling. It is Aisling who teaches Elizabeth to have faith in life and convinces her that if you light a penny candle at church, your most sacred wish will come true. Five years later, ...more
Oct 21, 2011 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
The first time I read a Bnchy novel, I was like, “Is this her best novel yet?” Oh, right. This is just one out of many. Reading another of her novel has not ruined my expectations of finding her words as moving and her characters as lively and real as those in the first I’ve read.

Really, it’s like, the people in the novel are not mere icons of fiction but they actually seem like you’re personally hearing their conversations. Every word the characters say is breaking my heart for the innate geniu
Maria Elmvang
Maeve Binchy's debut novel, and unfortunately it really shows. She hasn't found her own voice at all, and I kept thinking I was reading a Rosamunde Pilcher novel instead. Not that there's anything wrong with RP, I just missed the charm of Maeve Binchy's later books.

The thing I love about Maeve Binchy's books is that they're generally speaking comfort reads. There are exceptions of course, but as a rule people tend to be in a better place at the end of the book than they were at the beginning. Th
Annie Kaye
Feb 22, 2013 Annie Kaye rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars.

I won't go into the details of the book itself - other reviewers have done so. This is the first Maeve Binchy book I've read where I finished it and felt rather unsatisfied. I have become accustomed to (and a fan of) the way she spins a tale, weaves together the details, and above all exercises the patience to do the story justice.

However, the wheels seemed to come off the story, so to speak, in the middle of the final chapter. It felt like she got tired of writing it and wasn't sure
Sep 15, 2008 Rowena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Elizabeth White and Aisling O'Connor. Elizabeth is sent to stay with Aisling's family in Ireland during the Blitz in London. The two of them grow to be best friends despite of, or perhaps because of the events that occur over the next two decades.

I can't really explain why I enjoy Maeve Binchy's books so much. The writing isn't particularly profound and her plots tend to veer toward extreme soap opera-iness. However, each and every one of her characters are so well-develope
Jan 06, 2011 Susan rated it liked it
O! Maeve Binchy...Ireland's own Jodi Picoult!
If you prefer to not think too hard while reading; if you are amused by all things Irish; or if you've never experienced the Binchy formula, then you would probably enjoy any number of her books. Binchy, like Picoult, is best enjoyed in isolation of any of her other writings.

I believe this is one of her better books, but I am probably influenced by the fact that it was the first of hers that I read. It chronicles a couple of decades of friendship bet
Apr 26, 2010 Cmgodfrey rated it really liked it
I read this book in the Christmas break of 1983 and loved the warmth that flowed from the page. IN 1994 I saw Maeve speak here in Melbourne and her warmth and interest in her fellow human is as alive and real as her characters. She believes we each have a story that we should write. Her stories of her mother and father were truly hilarious. She usually publishes a novel every two years and I have them all. I reread them when I just feel the need to retreat away with something lovely.
Megan Odonoghue
Apr 09, 2013 Megan Odonoghue rated it really liked it
Evacuated from Blitz-battered London, shy and genteel Elizabeth White is sent to stay with the boisterous O’Connors in Kilgarret, Ireland. It is the beginning of an unshakeable bond between Elizabeth and Aisling O’Connor, a friendship that will endure through twenty turbulent years of change and chaos, joy and sorrow, soaring dreams and searing betrayals. Through those years of friendship Aisling and Elizabeth wind in and out of each other’s lives. As they grow, fall in love, through happy times ...more
Dec 25, 2016 Barbara rated it it was amazing
I read this many years ago and still recall it as a great book.
Lee Ann
Jan 22, 2011 Lee Ann rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elisha Condie
Oct 22, 2014 Elisha Condie rated it it was ok
In addition to being on a Liane Moriarty spree I've been mixing it up a little with a Maeve Binchy spree. And I've come to accept that fact that if there is something good to be had I am going to want all of it. At once. Books or Trader Joe's desserts, it's all the same.

I've loved all the Binchy books I've read except this one. I started out loving it - it's about Elizabeth who is sent to live with her mother's school friend in Ireland to get away from the Blitz in London. It changes Elizabet
Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas
Sep 18, 2016 Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas rated it it was amazing
The author, Maeve Binchy, is my new most wonderful discovery. Unfortunately she is deceased, but fortunately she wrote some 15 books in her lifetime. Light a Penny Candle is a saga of two women who meet as children during WWII when 10-year-old Elizabeth is evacuated from London to live in safety with an Irish family, thereby meeting Aisling who becomes a life long friend. The author takes us through affairs, marriages and births of children and the characters are so real and endearing, I was dep ...more
Alexis Villery
Mar 31, 2011 Alexis Villery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth and Aisling were childhood friends. Where Aisling was bold, Elizabeth was enclosed in a proper shell. Later, Aisling's support brought her Elizabeth through the painful end of her parents' chilly marriage. In return, Elizabeth's friendship helped Aisling endure her own unsatisfying marriage to a raging alcoholic. This is a story of two girls growing up, drifting apart, and coming back together.. It takes us from their childhood to their early thirties.

While the concept may appear simp
Jun 08, 2012 Oolookitty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When my mother handed me this book, I scoffed. I didn't read books like this -- it looked like some kind of wifty romance to me. But I was getting on a plane, so, okay, I took it. Started reading it as the plane took off from LAX -- and then, suddenly, we were landing at JFK and I had no idea where the time had gone.

Thus began my love affair with Maeve Binchy.

This book is the story of British Elizabeth and Irish Aisling, who meet when Elizabeth is sent to live in Ireland during the London Blitz
Jul 04, 2012 Cb rated it it was amazing
Shelves: old-favorites
I first read this book almost 20 years ago - and loved it then as a teenager. So when I saw a copy in a second hand bookshop for $1 I had to buy it. Often when you return to an old favourite they have somehow shrunk with time but not this. MB is like putting on a comfortable cardie on a cold day and reminds me of hours spent reading in an armchair in our house which was tucked away out of site and where I could lose myself in a book for hours on end. This was one of her first and although her bo ...more
Oct 28, 2013 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes books set in Ireland
Maeve Binchy wove a tale intertwining the lives of two very different lives. The White family are a small, well-behaved family while the O'connor's are a large boisterous family. During World War II, Elizabeth White is sent to live with the O'Connors. Aisling O'Connor and Elizabeth become dear friends, even though their backgrounds are different. As the book unwinds, these two girls believe that the friendship that was created as children will see them through everything. However, this may not b ...more
Feb 20, 2014 Ginny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sorry Binchy fans, I tried I really tired. I didn't like the first book I read by her, but when a friend from work suggested I read "my favorite book ever", I decided to give Binchy a second shot. Besides Light a Penny Candle had a recommendation of someone I knew. UGH!. I had to trudge through this book. AllI wanted to do was slap the characters and tell them to get real. The book drags on and on and then in the last chapter, the author jumps from one place to another trying to tie up the loose ...more
Yvonne Mendez
Jun 26, 2012 Yvonne Mendez rated it really liked it
Light a Penny Candle is one of Maeve Binchy's earlier published novels, I liked this book, but there is an improvement on her story-telling. This story is set in the time of WWII when British parents used to send their children away from the cities and bombs. In the case of Elizabeth, she was sent to Ireland where she meets her life-long friend Aisling. Light a Penny Candle brings one of Binchy's main themes throughout her books: strong friendships. And as always her stories are heart-warming an ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Sarah rated it it was ok
"Light a Penny Candle" was one of those novels whose ending wrecked what came before, so I liked it until the ending. I liked the characters' distinct personalities and lives, and I've always liked books that change perspective every so often. (Some parts were told from the point of view of the main character Elizabeth, and others were told from the point of view of her friend, Aisling.) I don't necessarily recommend this book, but I wouldn't discourage someone from reading it, either, although ...more
Gere Lewis
Jul 18, 2011 Gere Lewis rated it really liked it
This was my first read for this particular author. I had picked the book up because I dearly love all things Irish. I enjoyed the story very much and the only reason it did not receive 5 stars was the ending. I still feel like I need to finish the book, but I did finish it. I didn't feel that the ending was really an ending. It left me wondering what happens next. I will, however, be reading more from Maeve Binchy.
Nov 16, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
A solid 4 stars for sure--loved it loved it--until the last 30 pages!!! I really did not like the ending at all. This book is SO well written, and you just come to know and care about the characters, and then it all just falls apart in the last 30 pages or so.

SPOILER:(she does WHAT? why would she do that? What happens to him, and her? But... can't there be any happiness to the ending??!)Blah.
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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 about Maeve Binchy...

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“To heal would be to open the wound,examine it and forgive” 0 likes
“In my experience ,lights at the end of the tunnel tend to flicker out .” 0 likes
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