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Circle of Friends

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  37,170 ratings  ·  1,214 reviews
Big, generous-hearted Benny and the elfin Eve Malone have been best friends growing up in sleepy Knockglen. Their one thought is to get to Dublin, to university and to freedom...

On their first day at University College, Dublin, the inseparable pair are thrown together with fellow students Nan Mahon, beautiful but selfish, and handsome Jack Foley. But trouble is brewing for
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Paperback, 722 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Arrow (first published 1990)
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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingTwilight by Stephenie MeyerHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. RowlingThe Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
The BOOK was BETTER than the MOVIE
96th out of 1,296 books — 17,335 voters
Circle of Friends by Maeve BinchyTara Road by Maeve BinchyScarlet Feather by Maeve BinchyThe Glass Lake by Maeve BinchyQuentins by Maeve Binchy
Best Books By Maeve Binchy
1st out of 23 books — 117 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
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
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
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Lisa
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
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Sara
Jul 09, 2008 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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Engy Moussa
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
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Lissa
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
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Antof9
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
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Jenna St Hilaire
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
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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
Jan
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.

Mary Kate
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
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Nicole Long
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!
Lisa Cunningham
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
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Amanda
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
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
Kelly
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
Sanhita
A good read, though I would not categorise it as un-put-downable as it has been listed somewhere.
Set in late 1950s it's the story of two girls, close friends growing up in a small town in Ireland. They start their college studies in Dublin, make new friends there and how the Dubliners impact their lives and how they find their feet back again.
Though a lot of things keep happening, the pace is not very fast but it keeps your interest till the end.
Lily
May 16, 2007 Lily rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
Shelves: all-things-irish
I read this book after seeing the movie and as much as I love the movie, I love the book even more. The book has a few more major characters and plot developments that are note even touched in the movie. I have read many books by Maeve Binchy and Circle of Friends seems like her best developed story. The rest start to seem a little too much like romance novels for my taste (not that romance novels aren't good when you want one!) This story follows Benny Hogan and her friend Eve as they head to U ...more
Kathleen Thomas
Jan 10, 2013 Kathleen Thomas rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Lauren Fidler
i probably shouldn't, but i LOVE this book...the story of big girl benny, her friends nan and eve, her rampant catholic guilt, and the dreamy boy who fell for her and then broke her heart. the movie is a decent tribute, and a meaty minnie driver is exactly how i pictured benny, but it changed the ending to one that is WHOLLY disappointing. the actual story should be one of self-discovery and empowerment; however, the ending of the film makes the story into a "forgive and forget" love story betwe ...more
Kaethe
Two sheltered young women come to life in a college. There's plenty of plot, but what I love is the two girls' friendship, and "the wise woman" advice they work out for themselves. One of the best friendships in fiction.
Faith
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
Rena Sherwood
Circle of Friends (1990) is one of the late Irish writer Maeve Binchy’s best-loved novels. It’s one of her only works turned into a movie in 1995 (also called Circle of Friends.) It has many of the features and types of characters seen in Binchy are other works. It centers on the friendship between two very different girls, Benny and Eve.

The novel is set in a fictional Irish suburb called Knockglen, where Bernadette, (“Benny”), daughter of the town’s tailor is already unofficially engaged to be
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Kirsten Stewart
I started reading Circle of Friends because it was lying round the house, and I had nothing else to read. I found it to be a slow starter, but this author knows how to weave her story deep within you, so you grow to know the characters so well that you feel like you know them. You become immersed in her lilting Irish world without noticing and you must know what happens to Benny and her friends.

This is a slow burning gentle story that you get lost in, just don't expect it to be fast paced and tw
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Meg - A Bookish Affair
This has probably been my favorite Maeve Binchy book that I have read so far. One of the things that I like about Binchy is that she is very good at describing the characters and giving the back story of the characters.

Circle of Friends tell the story of Benny and Eve, friends who grow up in a small town in Ireland. They go off to university in Dublin where their circle of friends grows and their lives change greatly. This is a story of friends and the changes we go through as we grow up.
Kim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steve
2.5 stars. I'm oddly conflicted by this book. I didn't like how long it took to get going, the story took some odd turns, some of the characters could use a good slap and told to pull their head in and stop being so self-involved, and some of the chapters were more of a marathon than a part of a story. There were parts I did like, and parts I loathed. I also didn't like the resolution of the story, I would have preferred to it to finish 'neater', but I suppose it mirrors life.
Darlene
The book of course was better than the movie because it was a lot more well rounded. A lot of the characters that weren't in the movie turned out to be my favorite so I naturally enjoyed the book a bit more. The book gave a bit more background into Nan and why she did the terrible things she did. In the movie I was a little confused. While I enjoyed the "bless me father for I have sinned" in the movie and understand why they put Benny and Jack back together the ending of the book was truly liber ...more
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500 Great Books B...: Circle of Friends - Maeve Binchy 1 6 Jul 17, 2014 06:26PM  
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Circle of Friends 0 23 Apr 28, 2009 03:20AM  
  • September
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  • Never Too Late
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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
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More about Maeve Binchy...
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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.” 1 likes
“Who knows what light housework means? One nun’s light could be another nun’s penal servitude.” 1 likes
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