Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Copper Beech” as Want to Read:
The Copper Beech
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Copper Beech

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  13,931 ratings  ·  326 reviews
In the Irish town ofSchancarrig, the young people carve their initials--andthose of their loves-into the copper beech tree infront of the schoolhouse. But not even FatherGunn, the parish priest, who knows most of what goeson behind Shancarrig's closed doors, or Dr. Jims,the village doctor, who knows all the rest,realizes that not everything in the placid village iswhat it ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Dell (first published 1992)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Copper Beech, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Copper Beech

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This is my favorite Maeve Binchy book that I've read to date. I've yet to find another person who feels the same way, so perhaps I'm the odd woman out, but I don't mind. I simply got immersed in the story and found it easy to relate to the characters especially Chris.
I loved the idea that everyone thought what they knew what was going in the other characters lives, but it wasn't until you got to their respective chapters that you learned the truth....
'The Copper Beech' is a series of interwoven character studies, which tell different parts of a story of a small town community in Ireland, in the middle and late twentieth century. It opens with the description of a large beech tree, which gives shade in the grounds of a primary school. The school is being honoured with a visit from the Bishop, and we meet several characters from the town including some mischievous children.

There are then several sections, each written from the perspective of
Cheyenne Blue
I had a Maeve Binchy phase, oh, about 20 years ago. She wrote these cosy books about an old fashioned Ireland, where people were quirky, knew everything about everyone, and were never nasty to each other. Bad things happened to good people, but they got past it. I outgrew Maeve, but from time to time I pick one up, for a pleasant re=read.

The Copper Beech is one of her ensemble cast stories. She takes a central theme and weaves the individual stories around the centrepost. It's a bit like reading
Lucy Hannigan
One evening I went to visit with a neighbor who had just returned from another neighbor's house with 2 books and this was one of them. I mentioned that I loved Maeve Binchy and was sadden by her passing. My neighbor asked if I would like to borrow the book as she had the other book to read as well and I gratefully snatched it out of her hands. At 400+ pages, I wasn't sure how long it would take me to finish it--especially since I had a few library books that were due back soon. The next day my h ...more
I have to admit that I sometimes get a sense of deja vu when starting any of Binchy's books. Her style is very much her own and taking any chapter from any of her books you can immediately tell it is a Bincky book. However, I think that that is one of the things that appeals to me about her as a writer. I read many modern novels that stretch the form and push the reader to re-evaluate our place on earth, etc., but when the world becomes just a tad to overbearing I always know I can open a Binchy ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Diana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 5 out of 5
A huge copper beech tree sits in the school yard in Shancarrig and everyone has weitten their names in the tree through out the years. From ryan's Hotel to Barna Woods, where the gypsies came each year, from Nellie Dunn's sweet shop to FatherGunn's church, the tenor of life in this small Irish village is outwardly placid and uneventful. Nessa Ryan would say it was deadly dull. But, behind the calm exterior, serenity fades into unexpected drama. Maddy Ross has a secret love; Eddie Barton a surpri ...more
A great all around story; I love Maeve Binchy anyway, so it's hard for me to find a book of hers I don't like. I like the way she tells her stories; this one, like most, revolves almost entirely around different personalities, their secrets, actions, loves, hates, and how they all interact with each other. Complex, yet simple. The book spans almost 30 years, and you feel like you've been there all along as the characters grow and change. Nothing earth shattering, nothing overly gripping, just a ...more
I picked up this book simply because its author was Irish--I'm into all things Irish these days. The author tells the stories, one at a time, of eight schoolchildren in a small Irish village who carve their initials on graduation day into the huge copper beech tree beside the school. The stories intertwine and build on each other. Some characters were likeable, others not, which I'm sure was the intent of the author, but it shows how you never know what life will bring.
Not bad but I didn't enjoy it as much as I did with the other ones I have read from this author.
The Copper Beech is just a standard Binchy novel. The characters and setting were very typical Binchy. As with The Silver Wedding, each chapter was about one character, and I found some of their individual stories interesting, or at least with the potential to be interesting had they been developed and not overshadowed by the general "how the years pass by in a small Irish town" plot. Clearly that's one of Binchy's favorite plots, and she did it pretty well in Firefly Summer. However, I don't th ...more
Phyllis Gauker
I started reading this book many months ago and had to set it aside for a while. It depressed me to hear about the life in a small Irish village, filled with prejudice, drunkenness, social climbers, temptations of the priesthood, etc. But the other day I felt I was strong enough to read it, and picked it up again, right where the bookmark was. I didn't want to review the parts that had bothered me, so I dug right in, with only 1/8 of the book to go. There were some resolutions for me on the soci ...more
Julia Brumfield
This book really didn't take me that long although the timespan seems long since I couldn't find any actual real time to read the book. Otherwise I did get about 200+ pages read in one day when I was able to soon sit down.

I love the story-style of the book and the way the author brings a small Irish town into the limelight. She uncovers the real message of history that there is no one history but various stories, pieces and points-of-view that all lead to the composite history of a place. It w
Never judge a book club member by her cover. There was this lady in my former book group whom I didn't know and when she chose this book I just knew she'd picked it up at the check-out line at Albertson's. Wrong. Maeve Binchy is a good storyteller and her characters are as real as their lives are not boring.
This novel is structured in such a fashion as to make it seem a mere character study with a connecting element being the tree – the copper beach in front of the Shancarrig School where the graduates carve their marks as they leave the grammar school to the next phase of their lives. The interesting thing of the structure is that during the chapters of one character we get tantalizing glimpses of the live other the other characters, particularly Leonora Murphy, the last to be sketched. Hints that ...more
C.J. Prince
A tree lives for generations, shadowing and documenting secrets carved in its bark.

Maeve Binchy writes a complex interweaving of characters, class and religion in a small town in Ireland. Few authors fine tune the revealings and passions and suppressions as this book.

At first it may appear an idyllic country town but each character's feelings and desires are revealed, the relationship and expectation between men and women, upper and lower class.

No spoilers. What will a crime of passion reveal?
I always love her books and this one was no exception except it seemed rather more loosely structured than some of her others which made it a little harder to keep up with all the characters and their relations to one another and the story. So there would be intervals when one character encountered another and dun dun dun! I could tell it was supposed to be all meaningful to me and I would have to go back to find out why and oh! He was the tinker who sat across from her on the train when she ret ...more
Anne Harvey
Maeve Binchy excelled in writing about ordinary people doing ordinary things and this book is no exception. I found it easy to become involved in the doings of the people of Shancarrig, a small Irish town. Written from the point of view of various characters, all of whom were involved in the school, where the eponymous copper beech grew, in some way or other. Yet quite often the ordinary masked the extraordinary. Throughout each section, the characters develops in some way to become well-rounded ...more
I think Maeve Binchy probably wrote some books I would really enjoy, but this book was written in a style I just do not like, so it did not really work for me. I rarely enjoy a book written in the "one character per chapter" format. Add to that, I prefer much shorter chapters and to accommodate the format, most of the chapters in this book were very long. I found about half of them interesting and half of them dull.

I really enjoyed the comfortable simplicity of the prose, but I was annoyed by t
While I liked some portions of this novel, I certainly didn't love it. The format, basically a series of connected novellas, was one I didn't particularly appreciate. I suppose the title was apt in that in some ways it was more about the tree than any particular person who had sat underneath its branches. It was a bit by the acclaimed but unliked by me novel Life After Life in that with each new "chapter" (novella) time was reset. Events were in some ways revisited but through the perspective of ...more
The opening of this tale is big event in the little town of Shancarring, Ireland. The Bishop is coming for a special blessing of the local school. "In many ways, of course, it would have been much easier to let Mrs Kennedy (the local priests housekeeper) to take charge, to have allowed to get her machine into motion to organize." (many years ago I knew of a church that thought there was one lady who could do better than most people in the church, including the memory impaired clergyman.....they ...more
In Shancarrig, the copper beech tree stands in front of the local schoolhouse. This tree is the place where school children traditionally carve their initials and those of their loves. Of course there's a story behind each of the names on the trunk of that tree, and this book explores some of the individuals whose lives connected at a particular time in Shancarrig's history. As each new character is introduced we see how lives are intertwined and relationships are formed or broken.

What I like ab
I cannot say that it was my favourite Binchy yet but I must say that it was quite interesting. I liked the way that the author broke down the novel according to the several characters who made the story what it was. I also liked the fact that when an event occured with one character, more details were provided in another chapter based on a supporting character. At times the novel was difficult to put down as the story was so appealing, despite the fact that there was no great particular event pe ...more
Jan 31, 2012 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Bookmooch
In the Irish town of Shancarrig, the young people carve their intials - and those of the people that they love - into the trunk of an ancient copper beech tree in front of the schoolhouse. But not even the parish priest, Father Gunn, who knows everything that goes on behind closed doors, or Dr. Jims, the village doctor, who knows all the rest, realizes that not everything in the placid town is as it seems.

Unexpected passions and fear are bringing together so many people; the handsome new priest
Renée Damstra
I have read a short story book of Binchy before that was very nice and I feel Binchy somehow transferred her strength in writing short stories into this novel, by describing the lives of several people in one village in several stories that can be read on their own, but add to one another when read together.

I don´t know how she does it, but she can describe a whole life of a person in a few pages in such a way that I can sympathize with the character, be absorbed and need some time to ´come bac
Trixiekim Theriault
I have a feeling that most of the books written by Maeve Binchy have the same feel to them. This book "felt" a lot like Circle of Friends. Books about small towns, where everyone knows, everyone's business, or they spend a great deal of time trying to hide things from the each other-sometimes with success, sometimes not. An aspect of her books (well at least the two I have read) that I do not enjoy is the affairs, unwanted pregnancies, and abortions. It could be because of my belief about how tr ...more
I listened to this one on tape and enjoyed the Irish accent as well as the story. I had started it once before but didn’t get past the first chapter. After reading other Binchy books I went back to this one and found it enjoyable. They are light and cozy but with enough of a plot and conflict to keep me interested. I enjoy listening to them on the drive to and from work. Her books are like a relaxing little vacation. They make me want to visit Ireland. I liked the way she wrote each chapter fro ...more
Similar style to other Maeve Binchy books. Each chapter is a different character and she tells their story. All the characters are intertwined in this small Irish village so you are told about the same event, situation from different characters points of view. Most of the characters I liked and was interested in their story. Some I didn't care about, so their chapters felt really LONG. Overall a good read if you're interested in another Maeve Binchy, but if you're looking for your first Maeve Bi ...more
This is the story of small town anywhere. Everyone knows everyone else and everyone keeps tabs on what is going on, which is why I really loved the way this book is written, because each little story about one character overlaps in the way it should for people in a small town. This was a quick book to read and I really enjoyed the interactions of the characters and the crossing of the lives of the kids as they grew and changed. Some times I was moved, some times I was so angry at a character I w ...more
Julie Connor
This was my first and favorite of Maeve Binchy's books set in an Irish village. Maeve is a wonderful storyteller; she invites us into the lives of her characters and and, as she shifts between different characters' perspectives, we learn about the men and women who live within her stories and their complicated relationships with one another. She is sadly missed. She leaves behind a legacy of characters as colorful as the villages with which they live.
Not so much a novel as much as it is an endless string of interconnected short stories. Each chapter is from the point of view of a different resident of Shancarrig. The confusing part is that each chapter starts in the 40's or 50's, then rapidly proceeds through at least a decade. The same characters appear and reappear, but since the book jumps around in time so much, you'll meet one character as an adult in one chapter, then re-meet them as a child in another. Confusing.

In the end, I felt lik
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • September
  • Starting Over
  • Homecoming
  • Colony
  • A Village Affair
  • A Week in Winter
  • The Tea House on Mulberry Street
  • Never Too Late
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. Despite the fact she describes herself as an overweight child it was her parents attitude that gave her the confidence to accept herself for who she is today.

She studied at University College Dublin and was a teacher for a while.
More about Maeve Binchy...
Tara Road Circle of Friends Evening Class Scarlet Feather A Week in Winter

Share This Book