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Evening Class

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Among the many evening classes starting all over Dublin is an 'Introduction to Italian'. On the surface it could be just one of hundreds in which some students will succeed and some will fall along the way. the hopes and dreams of so many people are tied up in the twice weekly lessons. they are ready to set off on the promised trip to Italy at the end of the year, everyone's destiny has changed utterly.

528 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1996

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About the author

Maeve Binchy

218 books4,296 followers
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 traveling, and this was how she found her niche as a writer. She liked going to different places, such as a Kibbutz in Israel, and she worked in a camp in the United States. While she was away, she sent letters home to her parents. They were so impressed with these chatty letters from all over the world that they decided to send them to a newspaper. After these letters were published, Maeve left teaching and became a journalist.

Maeve married Gordon Snell, writer and editor of children's books. When they were struggling financially, Light a Penny Candle was published, which made her an overnight success. Many of her books, such as Echoes, are set in the past in Ireland. Some of her later novels, such as Evening Class, take place in more modern times. Her books often deal with people who are young, fall in love, have families, and deal with relationship or family problems. The main characters are people whom readers can empathise with.

She passed away on 30 July 2012, at the age of 72.

Her cousin Dan Binchy is also a published writer, as is her nephew Chris Binchy.

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5 stars
14,057 (33%)
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3 stars
10,019 (23%)
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255 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,257 reviews
Profile Image for Suz.
1,096 reviews565 followers
February 9, 2017
This is a lovely book, Maeve is just the best. I loved this so much as I haven't travelled, but I can say she took me there. Maeve Binchy is an author that you think you know, kinship could be the word? When she passed away I was incredibly sad, and surprised by it. She writes the type of book to re-read. Actually, I think she may have been one of my first authors I read as an older teen, not 'Dolly Fiction' etc. My mum leant me her Maeve books and it became a 'thing' of ours. This is what is uber cool about reading books, the experience at the time, and also the memories that come after for a long time.
Profile Image for Melindam.
631 reviews273 followers
March 25, 2021
Whether it's hot and you need a book while lying on the beach or raining and you need a one to curl up with at home, either way this book is a perfect choice.

Take a bunch of people all over Dublin with different characters, background, social standing, dreams and fears and throw them together in an unlikely place like a suburbian schoolroom where they meet to learn.. ITALIAN of all things.

The result is CHANGE for the better for all of them though it may come with twists and turns told in the trademark Binchy-style with warmth, gentle humour and understanding.
Profile Image for deliabookworm.
72 reviews10 followers
August 5, 2009
I read Evening Class one broiling summer at my grandparent's house in Baltimore. It was 98 degrees every day; with the humidity it felt hotter. To make things even worse, I had my period that week. I also hadn't brought enough books to read. I finished (and reread) the six books I had taken, then proceeded to raid my grandmother's bookshelf. The first book I borrowed was The Lord of the Flies, the second, Death of a Salesman. It was with relief I picked up a book that looked remotely like chicklit, for which I was desperate. I devoured Evening Class in a few hours, tossing and turning in the heat, cringing every time I ruined another pair of underwear. Still, nothing could distract me: I was utterly absorbed. Evening Class sucked me in. I related to each character, and read their stories, captivated. Untangling the threads that connected each story distracted me, and after I finished it, I read it again. And again. And again. I have since been a steady addict of Maeve Binchy; for all that she beautifies Irish village life, her stories are enthralling, and her characters are ones that stay with you, that you remember.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,209 reviews
October 9, 2016
Awwww I didn't want this book to end!!! This is Maeve at her best - weaving together the stories of people attending an evening class in Italian.
Such a cosy heart warming story and the audio version (read by Kate Binchy) is as always superb.
I love these people and want them to be my friends!I could listen to this family saga for hours...bliss.
Profile Image for Tina.
56 reviews2 followers
December 30, 2013

I found this read pretty interesting. Each chapter is narrated by a different character & all of the characters are intertwined in some way, other than their obvious attendance to the evening class. This shouldn't have been a problem…. but by the time I got to the 6th character (or-so) I'd forgotten the first 5 & had to seriously rack my brain to figure out how the characters were connected, who was who, and who did what. (Maybe it’s my ever-increasing old age. YIKES!) And then it became work. Each new chapter brought the beginning feelings of dread... It had nothing to do with the writing style because I enjoyed Binchy's writing. And it had nothing to do with the characters because I genuinely liked the characters & wanted to know their stories. But I became impatient with the current characters stories having to stop in order to allow the introduction of the new characters. I wanted to know what was happening with the characters I'd already become attached to & I knew, in my heart of hearts, I would really like the new characters & their stories & the process became redundant & irritating. I mean, I sit here & say I liked “all” of their stories, but the reality is that some of them were slightly off for me & a little far-fetched. Then again, I’ve never actually met anyone like Fiona so it’s hard for me to relate. (Were there enough “&’s” in this paragraph?? Just making sure I met the “&” quota, is all.)

There were also some things that totally left me hanging. For example: Why was Aiden's wife (Nell) such a bitch?? Not in an annoyingly bitchy way, but in a cold, absent way (which truthfully, became annoying. Hmmm…). What made her like this?? How did her affair with Barry's father start?? What happened with Fran & her beau in the U.S?? Why was Connie so tight in the sack?? Was it really her lack of trust in men?? Did she ever get over it or take a new lover?? Did she reconnect with Jacko?? Etc, etc...

Admittedly, I'm one of those readers that prefer the majority of my reading to be wrapped up in a beautiful little bow. Open endings are not my favorite because my imagination is so broad that my mind pulls in so many different directions and I’m left confused. I’m not saying that it has to be a perfect “happily ever after” ending.. just let it be an ending.

Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 1 book2,804 followers
February 25, 2020
A fantastic novel – powerful, clever, funny and poignant, and full of vignettes weaving together. The characterisation was wonderful, and I can't wait to read more by Maeve Binchy.
Profile Image for Negin.
608 reviews151 followers
January 21, 2018
Maeve Binchy has been a huge part of my reading life since I was 18, when a friend urged me to read “Echoes”. Since that time, I had read almost everything by her. One of my dreams in life was to meet her someday. Sadly, she died a few years ago. Her books are delightful comfort reads, and I’ve decided that I would like to re-read them.

I enjoyed this book as much as I did the first time that I read it. The setting is Ireland, as are pretty much all of her books, where several different characters from all walks of life come together to take an evening class in Italian. This, to me, is where Maeve truly shines – her realistic, everyday characters – and, of course, her storytelling.

20 reviews
August 4, 2008
I really wish that this site had half stars because I would push this up to a 3.5 stars, but couldn't really give it the full 4. The format of this book was especially interesting because if followed different individual characters for a period and than brought all their stories together in the end. I am definitely a Maeve Binchy fan now and would read anything written by her. Her books make everyday type events and people interesting.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,734 reviews938 followers
November 28, 2018
So I apologize in advance for not reviewing these books in the order of publication. I tend to go back again and again to my tried and true Binchy novels. I decided this year I will aim to at least post reviews for all of the books that I have read. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I enjoyed re-reading this book, Heart & Soul, and This Year it Will Be Different. There is something so homey with these books. At this time I have been reading about the same characters for more than a dozen years. I likened her a bit to Rosamunde Pilcher who returns to the same characters or references them in her other books. It's like a very nice present you get each book. That said, I thought that some of the character stories in this one were pretty adult. You have Binchy tackling marital rape (still rape), adultery, and theft. There are still some good heartwarming stories here and there though.

Evening Class starts out with Aiden Dunne realizing that his dream of becoming principal of Mountainview College is never going to happen. A new teacher, Tony O'Brien is who the administrators want as principal. Aiden doesn't know what he is going to do now and how he will be able to spin this to his family. Tony pushes him (for his own reasons) to do a potential evening class that Aiden recommends in order to bring in people to the school.

Once again Binchy does a good job of setting up the stories of the people who will end up attending this evening class. We know that at least 30 people sign up, but we ultimately only follow Aiden, Signora (real name is Nora), Bill, Kathy, Lou, Connie, Laddy, and Fiona.

Per usual I think my favorite sections to read about were Aiden, Signora, and Connie.

I felt for Aiden since he is realizing that his wife (Nell) and two daughters (Grania and Brigid) have grown apart through the years. His wife is barely home, his two daughters don't really talk to him, and he is starting to realize that he is middle-aged with the possibility of this being his life until the day he passes. Him organizing and taking the evening class which will ultimately teach its participants Italian allows him to think about his life in a totally different way. His burgeoning friendship with the teacher, Signora, always allows Aiden to dream about something new. I did get frustrated with Aiden a bit, because I felt like he was just way too clueless about a lot of things going on. He was a bit passive, except a few times in the story. I was ultimately happy with how Binchy concludes his story in this book.

Signora was interesting. Usually I would despise this type of character. At the age of 20 something, Signora met an Italian boy named Mario and proceeded to defy her family and follow him to Sicily. While there, Signora finds out that Mario is to be married. She still decides to stay and be Mario's other woman for more than 20 years. When Mario dies in an accident, she is asked to leave by his wife and children and Signora finally returns home. Ireland has moved on while she was away so Signora has trouble finding a place to live and work. When she ends up teaching Italian at Mountainview College it seems her prayers are answered. I felt a bit for Signora's family. They don't sound great, but I can see why her family was a bit put out with her. She ended up reconnecting with her best friend from years ago, Brenda, who runs the ever popular Quentins, so that was good. I did read Quentins years ago, but will do a re-read to post a review.

Connie's story was something else though. A young girl who had it all until her father died leaving her family penniless. Being forced to give up her dream of being a lawyer, she goes to a secretarial school where she ends up avoiding men. She eventually meets someone that she thinks will be a perfect husband and father, Harry Kane. Connie thinks that her life will be perfect, but there a ton of wrenches thrown in the way. I liked how Connie pushed through them though I did wish that the character had went to therapy. There definitely seemed to be something going on with her. I did love how Binchy wrapped up one part of her story. I didn't really like the whole thing that went down with her when the group gets to Italy though.

The other characters are interesting, I just didn't like them as much as the others. I just felt like Bill was being a pushover, and a jerk at times (his realization of him having to be his younger sister's caregiver after his parents are gone just made me dislike him a bit). Kathy's story was okay, just not that engaging. I though Lou was a jerk honestly when we find out what he was getting up to. And Laddy's story was just sad to me. Honestly it should have been called Rose's story (Laddy's sister) since the story focused on her and what she had to deal with as a married woman.

The writing was really good. Binchy has a way with words that just draws you in. I always love reading her works in the fall/winter because that always seems to be the time of year to me that is best to read her works. The flow was a bit up and down though between character chapters. That and me not being as engaged with the different characters stories is why I gave this one 4 stars.

The setting is Ireland in the late 90s I imagine. Evening Class was first published in 1996, but I got this book back in April 2009. Some parts of the book felt a bit dated to me then with discussions of one of Aiden's daughters working in a travel agency. I honestly don't know if there are travel agencies anymore.

The ending leaves things with a newfound hope and joy for two of the characters. And some of them are definitely in a new stage of their lives like Fiona and Lou.
Profile Image for Serap.
690 reviews72 followers
February 26, 2019
Bir dönem (klasiklerden sonra yaklaşık 10-15 yıl önce) keşfedip takıntı yaptığım epey kitabını zevkle okuduğum yazar kendileri ve bu kitapla klasikleri bırakıp modern kitapları okumaya başladım...okuduğum dönem benim için kitaplarının hepsi 5 yildizlikti, şimdi okusam beğenir miyim bilmem🤔
Profile Image for Brittany (Britt's Book Blurbs).
650 reviews145 followers
March 10, 2022
Finally! This is the Binchy I remember and why I started reading through all of her books. This is the first time I recognised characters that appear in other books - the first reference of Brenda and Patrick from Quentin's made me so happy. It also felt much less like short stories. While each chapter focuses on a different character, their lives overlap more, so it doesn't feel like you're cut off from each one at the end of the chapter.

Aidan was a bit of a dunce. I mean, he's a well-meaning, helpful person, but he's certainly not the brightest. His wife is totally remote and barely involved in his life, and he never questions it - he's much more interested in Tony's life and relationships. It seems a bit like willful ignorance.

I didn't particularly like Nora at first - she comes off as pretty pathetic, following a married man to a small town in a country where she doesn't speak the language and is entirely alone. Over time, her gentle, unassuming nature won me over, though. The way she floats through life could be incredibly obnoxious if she weren't consistently helping those around her. Nora certainly adds more good to the world than she takes, and while she seems very laissez-faire, she proves that she can stand up for herself when needed.

I was pretty apathetic towards Lizzie but felt sorry for Bill. Lizzie seems to be leading him on because she thinks he'll be rich one day, while Bill appears to believe she will turn over a new leaf and become thrifty any moment. So many red flags in this relationship.

I wish there had been more about Kathy and Fran - they number among the few without some form of closure. There was a wonderful arc here exploring their relationship, which was complicated and beautiful and developed in a refreshingly unique direction.

Lou was a bit of a non-entity, dense and oblivious to how much damage his 'being observant and in the right place' mantra caused. By refusing to acknowledge the big picture, he always seems surprised when others aren't so keen to embrace the criminal lifestyle. He also only seems to do nice things for others if he has an ulterior motive.

Connie was simultaneously heartbreaking and inspirational. she has such foresight as to what she wants out of life, and starts making smart decisions early on to escape the life her mother has. I love how strong she is to make the decisions necessary to ensure stability for herself and her children. When Connie discovers wrongdoing, she always makes the right choice, even if she technically doesn't have to, or probably shouldn't. While her calm logic is impressive, it broke my heart that she had to so often. I want so much more for her.

Laddy is sweet and simple and felt more like a backdrop for the incredible people in his life. Poor Rose has to deal with so. much. Every time you think things couldn't get worse for her, they do. And I loved how strong, consistent, and supportive Gus and Maggie are for Laddy. Even everyone in the Italian class looks out for Laddy, acting as a surrogate family at times. He stumbles into many situations that could end terribly but work out for everyone involved, primarily due to his kind, generous nature.

Fiona went from being a complete pushover to pretty manipulative - there's planning, and then there's planning everyone's lives without their awareness. While she uses her powers for good, it's always her idea of what should happen, not considering what would be best for other people. Fiona deserves to be happy after feeling lonely and ignored for so long, but I don't understand her choice to pick Barry - right place at the right time, I guess? They're a strange match, and he seems pretty sexist and dismissive a lot of the time. What I did like was Fiona's friendship with Grania and Brigid - they're brutally honest with each other and seem to truly support each other.

I have to say, very few people in Binchy's books remain faithful to their partners. There are what - three different couples in Evening Class with at least one partner committing adultery? Well, technically, four: Maybe my awareness of 90s Ireland is limited (well, it is...), but there seems to be a lot of cheating involved. Couples in Binchy novels should be forewarned.

I loved how much the narrative overlapped throughout each chapter - no restrictive POVs here, the perspective flip-flops as needed so that everyone can keep updating the reader with their relationships, feelings, and lives. It made for a more harmonious story than some of Binchy's earlier works which felt more like short story collections than novels. I'm hoping this means that her books are more like this moving forward.

Review originally posted here on Britt's Book Blurbs.

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Profile Image for Debbie Zapata.
1,784 reviews35 followers
September 14, 2019
This is the second title in my current Maeve Binchy mini revival. It is a duplicate from my Mom's bookcases, so I will shift it over to mine now that I have finished reading it. This is one reason there are so many books in our house. Mine sometimes go to her, hers sometimes come to me, and if a book flunks the "I'll take that one, it sounds good" test, it goes to the library. What can I say, at least we have fun!

Anyway, I loved Evening Class, even though I am not sure the 'connected short story' style would work as well with a different theme. Here it was great. Each chapter pinpointed a different character, showing why they want to take the class, what they do once they are there, and how two nights a week at school changes their lives.

Aidan Dunne is a teacher trapped in a drab home life and with what turn out to be false hopes of a new position at his school. He is the one who becomes the director of the class. Nora O'Donoghue, after more than 20 years living in Italy, returns to Ireland and finds work as the teacher who inspires her students to become enchanted by the Italian language, food, and culture.

There are thirty or so students in the class but just a few become the focus of this lovely little world. I felt like a part of the community myself and had a hard time putting down the book. I had read it a long time ago, and could remember doing that, but I was fuzzy about details. It was great fun to meet these people again, to share how important the evening class became for everyone, the ways their they all slowly blended together into a family.

It is a feel good book that made me teary-eyed at the end. I know I will be reading it yet again Someday. But meanwhile, I managed to get to the library and borrowed Binchy's Whitethorn Woods, which I know for certain I have never read. I'll be starting that one in just a few minutes. We are having one of those lovely gentle-rain days that make you want to curl up with a book and stay there all day. Not that I need any excuse, but today I do have one. lol

18 reviews
May 21, 2007
It's a bad thing about Binchy's books. Once I start reading, I couldn't stop myself. The day before yesterday at midday I started to read Evening, I didn't do other things except reading it to the last. It was about 2 o'clock in the morning when my eyes couldn't recognise a single word. My brain still on it, but the eyes stopped to cooperate.

Once again, Evening Class was a sweet story about people who gathered in an Italian evening class. People like Signora O'Donoghue, Aidan Duenne, Katherine and Fran Clarke. They met by coincidence and became like a big family. All of them had reason and hope and dreams. And the story flowed in unexpested way, a Binchy's style.
Profile Image for Sonia.
272 reviews
December 26, 2008
I admit I read this out of guilt, because my mom gifted it to me a few years ago (it's about a Latin teacher with Italophilia). Plus I needed something to pass the night in PDX. But the book was LOUSY. The characters had all the depth of a jello parfait. I do not understand the appeal of this writing at all.
Profile Image for Maureen Mullis.
Author 14 books85 followers
August 24, 2016
Just a breathtaking book! Maeve Binchy is one of the best story tellers the world has known. The layers, the depth, the richness of her books is unparalleled. Evening Class, about people who come together two evenings a week to study Italian and the culture of Italy. Each chapter covers the story of a student and how they wound up there. So marvelous. These characters will hang in your mind long after you turn the last page.
Profile Image for Noella.
894 reviews54 followers
November 27, 2021
Dit is een heel mooi verhaal in zijn genre, en fantastisch geschreven! Ik geef niet gauw 5 sterren, maar dit was het echt wel waard.

Per hoofdstuk leren we een nieuw personage kennen. Het begint met Aidan Dunne, een leerkracht latijn op de Mountainview school in Dublin. Aidan hoopte rector te worden, maar iemand anders wordt gekozen. Maar hij mag wel een andere droom van hem verwezenlijken: een avondcursus italiaans organiseren op de school.

Het tweede personage is Signora, oftewel Nora O'Donnoghue, een vrouw die toen ze nog jong was haar minnaar achterna reisde naar Sicilië, waar hij uitgehuwelijkt werd aan een geschikte vrouw. 26 jaar bleef Nora--die nu Signora genoemd werd--recht tegenover het huis van Mario wonen, en soms bracht hij haar geheime bezoekjes. Na zijn dood gaat ze terug naar Ierland, maar ze is totaal vervreemd van haar familie, en staat er alleen voor. Ze heeft nog wel haar trouwe vriendin Brenda.
Signora, die op zoek is naar werk, komt het nieuws van de avondcursus te weten, en solliciteert voor de baan van lerares. Ze wordt meteen aangenomen.

En dan leren we een voor een (een groot deel van) de cursisten en hun familie, vrienden en verleden kennen. Ze komen uit alle lagen van de samenleving.

Het hoogtepunt is de reis naar Italië aan het einde van het schooljaar. En deze reis is voor allen de mooiste afsluiter die ze hadden kunnen dromen.

Ik vond het erg leuk om per (lang) hoofdstuk iemand nieuw te leren kennen, en dan te lezen hoe ze uiteindelijk allemaal met elkaar verbonden worden, niet alleen in de cursus, maar ook, schijnbaar toevallig, in het dagelijks leven. Heel goed uitgewerkt verhaal!
Profile Image for Ghost of the Library.
339 reviews64 followers
June 11, 2017
Ah the magic of the irish people and their story telling skills...bewitching they are rumored to be, when a good teller of tales is found, and such i believe is the case with Maeve Binchy herself.

Evening Class and its 8 characters is another fine, if not perfect, example of Ms. Binchy´s qualities and skills in drawing a reader to her story like you would be drawn into a talk with a friend you haven´t seen in ages, but long to know how he/she is doing. You´ll probably shed a tear or get angry over some wrong done to your friend, but at the end of it all you will be happy and delighted that everything went as it should.

8 very different people, who one would imagine to have nothing in common, are drawn to precisely the same italian class for adults, started at the instigation of "mad about italy" latin teacher Aidan Dunne and the mysterious (and slightly quirky) Signora, recently returned from Sicily and with a couple of secrets of her own.

What sets this one apart? well i think this is a very solid proof that no matter what may at first look like differences of birth (and finances), we are all much more alike than we could have ever imagined - really not that different at the end of the day, and with very similar hopes and dreams.

In between allowing these 8 people to tell there own life story and how they ended up in that class, Maeve Binchy gives us glimpses of a lovely romance blooming between Aidan and Signora...it is really is sweet to watch/read.

Maybe this isn't the Maeve Binchy book for you - but guess what? its ok, plus they are most of them connected thanks to characters that appear in more that one, so if you "find" yours, good chances are that you will get very curious and want to read something else!
However, literary preferences aside, personally i think you would need a heart of stone to not enjoy at least one of her many many works...there´s a deceptive simplicity to her plots and her words, that almost have you thinking "oh crap another harlequin novel!" ...but have a little faith, you will not want to put it down till you finish...it is indeed like being reunited with an old dear friend for whom you wish nothing but the best.

Perfect Read for a long lazy afternoon enjoying the sun along with a cup of tea.

Happy Readings!
Profile Image for Christine.
116 reviews7 followers
May 30, 2011
This is the first novel I have read by Binchy. I am not sure why I avoided her in the past. For some reason, her cover art screamed bad romance novel, I guess. I was pleasantly surprised to find a character driven novel that was pleasant to read. Certainly not great literature, but not a bad summer read for some fun. Things I liked: Characters were well developed, it is clear that the author knows that aspect well. The way the story was told from numerous points of view in the format of each main character getting their own chapter was engaging. It was really nice to see other peripheral characters pop up in each story. Things I didn't like: Some fairytale plot points and a few loose ends. I understand this author carries several characters over into other novels, though, so the loose ends might have been intentional to set up other books. Overall, nice light read if you are just looking for some fluff to kill some time.
Profile Image for Beth.
Author 10 books556 followers
October 19, 2016
A lovely feel-good book packed with sympathetic and realistic characters to love and root for.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
493 reviews25 followers
January 29, 2017
I think I'm reading so many of these because they represent an escape from the absolute awfulness all around right now. This book made me want to learn Italian or take a class for fun.
Profile Image for Kerry.
156 reviews12 followers
June 8, 2013
'Evening Class' is an enjoyable piece of chick-lit which tells the story of how an evening class at a rundown high school, changes various individuals' lives. It's long, but worth the effort, in that it has that 'feel good' factor, and makes for an enjoyable story that you can read anywhere.

Nevertheless, I had quite a few complaints with the book. I found the main character of Signora utterly detestable and pathetic, and therefore very difficult to warm to, and I felt that with many of the characters, such as Lou, a lot more development could have been made, as it wasn't quite explained how he was able to draw himself so easily out of a life of crime.

I felt my biggest complaint was that Binchy went to great efforts to include as many contemporary problems in society as possible (there was infidelity, rape, anorexia, learning difficulties, family difficulties, money insecurity and even a bit of organised crime!) when she could have spent more time developing the stories of some of her characters, character depiction definitely being one of her pluses as an author. Nevertheless, a nice holiday read, and I would be inclined to read something by her again.
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,206 reviews187 followers
September 30, 2019
If you like stories with lots of quirky characters who wouldn’t normally be friends coming together for a common goal, you’ll like Evening Class. Maeve Binchy is a name that came up over and over as I searched for Irish authors (in preparation for a recent trip to the Emerald Isle), and I can see why her books are so popular. I loved the warm tone and the generosity she showed her characters, even those who maybe didn’t deserve it. A disheartened teacher sets up a night class for adults in the community who want to learn Italian, with the ultimate goal of a trip to Italy. Not everyone gets along, and it seems everyone has a different motivation for joining the class. Fireworks are inevitable, but the way the classmates support each other and the way learning a new language opens doors for them was lovely to read about.
Profile Image for Lana M..
86 reviews99 followers
January 30, 2022
Imagine a sweet, warm hug when you need it most..that’s this book.
The short review is: This book is about Life.

Life: How simple and complicated it is. How predictable and unexpected it is. How marvelous and nerve-recking it is. Exactly how life is. No black and white. But just it.
The story of 8 individuals in Dublin with very different lives who are somehow all connected and influence the life of each other, they don’t see this, but you as the reader, do see this and gasp at how strange life can be..

An Italian evening class, twice a week, gathering these random 8 individuals together and have them experience some sort of otherworldly magic is where the story lies.
⭐️: 5/5
Profile Image for Dora.
390 reviews13 followers
November 1, 2017
Δεν υπαρχουν επιθετα για να χαρακτηρισω αυτο που νοιωθω τωρα που τελειωσε αυτο το βιβλιο... οτι και να πω θα ειναι λιγο και δεν περιγραφεται. ποσο λυπαμαι που αργησα τοσο να την ανακαλυψω... ΔΕΝ ΣΧΟΛΙΑΖΩ ΤΠΤ
Profile Image for Monica Bailey.
14 reviews1 follower
October 20, 2020
A beautiful story that follows the lives of different characters that all attend an evening class together. They lead very different lives but they are all interconnected in some way. A heartwarming, wholesome ending to a great story!
Profile Image for Stef Rozitis.
1,458 reviews70 followers
November 9, 2016
At it's best it was charming, feel-good escapism with somewhat two-dimensional characters reminiscent in style and content of L M Montgomery or the more shallow passages of Tamora Pierce. In this way I sort of enjoyed bits of it, even while disapproving of myself for enjoying it (like eating an oversweetened chocolate bar). The writing throughout was simple and almost childish, it reminded me of Enid Blyton for example p349 "And they had shaken hands with such vigour that both of their arms were sore for days". It is full of simplistic reconciliations and almost more resolutions than conflicts. So like a children's book but with a lot of sex (thankfully back-grounded because can you imagine reading a sex-scene in that voice?)

My gripes with the book had to do with its hyper-individualist world view where social mobility depends on staying positive and hard-working to overcome whatever fate has dealt you. In this world there is no such thing as politics and any inequity is a matter of random chance and doesn't really set anyone back unless they become bitter. Morality too is administered in a judgemental but somehow contradictory way. Men tend to get away with things and be either redeemed or receive a slap on the wrist and then move on in the book. Women seem to be typed either as saintly and too-good-to-be-true patiently bearing every hardship and through gentleness and self-sacrificing generosity (eg Signora spends almost all her earnings back on the class) find happiness, meaning and Luuuuurve. The other sort of woman is portrayed as shallow, selfish and is punished by unhappiness, ugliness, ageing in the book (the saintly ones might age but then when they become more positive and start buying clothes the ageing process is miraculously reversed).

After about 300 pages of this character being redeemed or that character being redeemed (all through coupledom and love) I lost touch with who was who all the young couples started to look alike to me and it seemed that the main thrust of the book was to pair everyone by the end (except the bad women ho needed to be punished). It seemed ludicrous to me that in a big city like Dublin, such a disparate group of people would be so tightly enmeshed in so many ways without knowing each other before the narrative starts, I kept thinking we were talking about a small town not Dublin! I live in Adelaide in which everyone seems to know everyone and even to me this seemed excessively enmeshed. I also thought there was some naivety about the different social classes so easily getting along and sharing a world view.

All in all I didn't think much of the book but in places (as I mentioned) it had charm. I could say a lot more about gender and (hetero)sexuality in the book (eg Constance's sexual dysfunction is a puzzling addition) but I suspect most people who read this will be just looking for escapism. If you like your world simple, positive, individualistic and your happiness to happen in couples. If you like two-dimensional stereotypes of suffering redeemed or the love-able idiot (Laddy is one, Olive is another) then go for it!
Profile Image for Sarah.
55 reviews10 followers
May 12, 2012
I've read many of Maeve Binchy's books, but this one is still my favorite. Nora, a young Irish girl from a loveless home, falls hopelessly in love with Mario and follows him back to Sicily, even though he intends to marry the girl his family has picked out for him. She stays there for twenty-five years, sitting in a room across the square from where Mario and his family live, watching their comings and goings. But that's all backstory. The real story begins when Nora, now known as "Signora," finally returns to Dublin and meets up with Aiden, a middle-aged, unhappily married Latin teacher, who wants to start an evening class for adults on Italian language and culture. This new venture excites and energizes the dejected "Signora" and gives her a new lease on life.

Like most of Binchy's novels, EVENING CLASS is almost like a series of short stories, skillfully woven together in such a way that they become inseparable from the main plot. In these "short story" subplots we get to know many of the students in the class, along with their deepest secrets, problems, hopes and fears. The characters are well-drawn, authentic, and loveable despite their many faults and idiosyncrasies. As always in Binchy's stories, all works out for the best in the end, but not before the reader is taken on a suspenseful journey through many fascinating lives.
117 reviews
January 23, 2010
Maeve Binchy is my new favorite author. She takes ordinary characters, takes a long chapter to share their story, and then intertwines all their stories to make a satisfying book.

Aiden Dunne is a hardworking Latin teacher in a working class neighborhood in Dublin, Ireland. He has devoted his life to the school in the hope of becoming the principal someday. The school leadership has other ideas, but to soften the blow, he is offered the chance to start an evening school.

Nora O'Donoghue, a Dublin native is returning to her roots penniless after spending over 25 years in Sicily. She hears that the evening school needs an Italian teacher and soon finds herself teaching over 30 students from various backgrounds not only the Italian language, but also the culture. The stories of these students are at times sad, at other times a little frightening, but Ms. Binchy wraps up all the loose ends by the end of the book for a satisfying ending.

Profile Image for Julie.
479 reviews
May 14, 2023
According to Google translate, this is un bel libro, or beautiful book to us English speakers.
It combines so many themes that I love, languages, lifelong learning, travel, food, friendships.
Maeve Binchy is an extraordinary writer. She seems to be able to convey the feelings of a vastly different cast of characters.
Yes, some may say her work is a bit clichèd, but she never disappoints in providing the feel good factor.
Our cast of characters come together in an Italian Evening Class and we follow a number of them in detail, a technique that is very satisfying. Given the right growing medium, all sorts of blooms are possible. Read this book to complete the bouquet!

Reread 2.9.21 un bel libro!
Reread 14.5.23 for the umpteenth time. A real hug of a book!
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