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Extended Audio Sample Whitethorn Woods Audiobook, by Maeve Binchy Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,170 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Maeve Binchy Narrator: Jenny Sterlin Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2007 ISBN: 9780739342268
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Maeve Binchy once again brings us an enchanting book full of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that have made her one of the most beloved and widely read writers at work today.

When a new highway threatens to bypass the town of Rossmore and cut through Whitethorn Woods, everyone has a passionate opinion about whether the town will benefit or suffer. But young Father Flynn is most concerned with the fate of St. Ann’s Well, which is set at the edge of the woods and slated for destruction. People have been coming to St. Ann’s for generations to share their dreams and fears, and to speak their prayers. Some believe it to be a place of true spiritual power, demanding protection; others think it’s a mere magnet for superstitions, easily sacrificed. 

Not knowing which faction to favor, Father Flynn listens to all those caught up in the conflict, and these are the voices we hear in the stories of Whitethorn Woods–men and women deciding between the traditions of the past and the promises of the future, ordinary people brought vividly to life by Binchy’s generosity and empathy, and in the vivacity and surprise of her storytelling.

Maeve Binchy is at the very top of her form in this irresistible tale.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • In classic Binchy style, many diverse characters tell their own, sometimes overlapping, stories . . . After [finishing], readers will want to call their mothers . . . An enjoyable peek into other people’s thoughts. Library Journal
  • Binchy focuses her prodigious talent on a robust assemblage of characters embroiled in romantic and domestic crises. Inventively and intricately weaving a series of linked vignettes, [she] astounds with the versatility of the supplicants’ voices . . . Binchy is at her best in this tender yet potent tale of a traditional land and people threatened and challenged by the forces of change. Carol Haggas, Booklist
  • Binchy deliver[s] a panoply of richly drawn first-person characters . . . Stories of greed, infidelity, mental illness, incest, the joys of being single, the struggles of modern career women, alcoholism, and the heartbreak of parenting span generations, simply and poignantly. Binchy takes it all in and orchestrates the whole masterfully. Publishers Weekly
  • Binchy inserts questions of faith into her usual romantic braid of multiple storylines . . . These are often fully realized stories that stand on their own . . . Binchy’s lilting Irish zest is undeniably addictive. Kirkus Reviews
  • UK reviews:
  • What readers are buying into with a Binchy book is a unique environment: a world of warmth and compassion in which a kind heart is prized above a pretty face, family life is celebrated and qualities such as decency and initiative are rewarded. This is the milieu of her latest novel . . . Binchy has always had a knack for character . . . It takes a particularly skilful writer to engage the reader’s sympathy [as she does] . . . These characters speak with their own voices directly off the page. Martina Devlin, The Irish Times
  • Vintage Binchy. A touching, funny, optimistic book full of wonderful, well-observed characters. Wendy Holden, Daily Mail
  • Binchy [is a] national treasure . . . In Whitethorn Woods her particular gift for creating a world and then drawing you in is employed with her usual skill [and] just the right combination of warmth, gossip and insight into human nature . . . Always maintaining a sense of humour, she effortlessly makes the reader feel that they are returning to an old friend. Mairead Byrne, Irish Independent
  • For everyone who weaves in and out of these tightly made stories, a timeless search for love, money or perfect happiness continues to inject drama into the most humdrum lives . . . The charm is in the telling, often with the author’s tongue held firmly in cheek. Aisling Foster, The Times (London)
  • What never goes out of fashion–and Binchy has it in spades–is the ability to apply a clever twist to your tale, and to apply it with such skill and timing that the reader doesn’t see it coming . . . A couple of afternoons in the gentle environs of Whitethorn Woods will not disappoint.
    –Sile McArdle, Sunday Independent (Ireland)
  • Binchy has a special talent for bringing her characters to life and, in the end, drawing them all together in a very satisfactory way. An engaging read. Sheila Forbes, Daily News
  • Warm and cosy as a turf fire . . . Whitethorn Woods is another feast for all those who love Maeve Binchy’s books. Lucille Redmond, Evening Herald (Dublin)
  • This is Binchy at her mischievous best: tongue-in-cheek, oozing warmth and humour and evoking a culture and people she knows and loves. Comfort food indeed. Sally Morris, First magazine
  • From Canada:
  • What could be sweeter than a trip to [an] Irish village packed with robust native characters? That’s exactly what Maeve Binchy offers in her latest novel . . . Love, longing, and rich scenes of daily life intertwine in this neatly constructed story. Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor
  • Stellar Irish novelist Maeve Binchy can display unexpected depths for a crowd-pleasing author . . . One soon becomes engaged in the lives of more than two dozen characters . . . Touches of humor enliven the account, but Binchy’s chief stock-in-trade here is making relatively average lives colorful and worth our interest. Maude McDaniel, Bookpage
  • Binchy has an accessible, comfortable writing style and fine storytelling ability . . . [Her] stories of an Ireland in transition have pleased readers for years. Joan Hinkemeyer, Rocky Mountain News
  • Maeve Binchy is a benevolent god of a novelist . . . Whitethorn Woods draws on her strengths: She can channel Irish voices with the best of them, and each of those voices has its own twisting story to tell . . . often with verve and humor. Margaret Quamme, Columbus Dispatch
  • Whitethorn Woods is a tour-de-force for Binchy, who seamlessly inhabits all these narrators and gets their individual voices pitch-perfect . . . By the time you arrive at the last page, you’ll feel you know virtually everyone in [this] little corner of Ireland . . . Binchy is in top form. Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times
  • Whitethorn Woods is Binchy’s best read in a decade . . . In Binchy’s hands the old progress-versus-tradition story takes on new life . . . Binchy weaves an absorbing web of stories . . . [She] taps into that mysterious process by which our sense of belonging, individual and collective, accumulates around particular places and the stories attached to them . . . Story by story, voice by voice, Binchy builds the fictional community of Rossmore so that, by the end of the novel, we know Rossmore’s inhabitants better than our own neighbours . . . It’s novelists like Binchy who keep today’s publishing industry going . . . Few contemporary novelists match Binchy’s gift for giving us the world through her characters’ eyes . . . Write on, Maeve. May you continue to delight new generations of readers. Elizabeth Grove-White, Toronto Globe and Mail

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paula L'hirondelle | 2/20/2014

    " If you are a Courtenay fan , this is sure to please. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 RuthG | 2/10/2014

    " I found this book to be a "cozy" read. That's how I've felt about other books by her that I've read. In this one she combines old Irish superstition and the modern day world in such a way that I continually had to remind myself that the story was current. It had a feeling of being much further in the past. All of the various stories were tied up meatly by the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Thea Pitchers | 2/2/2014

    " I like her writting style ok book so many difeerent characters in this one you wnated to know more about them but because it only gave a chapter to each you where left wanting more - hoever I did enjoy this not as good as my fave MB book evening class "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bonnie | 2/1/2014

    " In today's hectic world I always find reading Binchy books very relaxing. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Wendy | 1/30/2014

    " Sadly, this isn't the Maeve Binchy that I knew and loved. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rocky | 1/20/2014

    " Best book I've read in 40 years. Characterization and development, story line, plot development and the mixing of various characters is astounding... a Symphony of the Written Word! Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doti | 1/18/2014

    " Lovely short stories from the visitors and inhabitants of Rossmore a town changing with the times. The stories as a whole tell the history and present of the community and its environs, with overlapping themes, events and people. More good Maeve storytelling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa Henriques | 1/17/2014

    " Maeve Binchy can spin a tale like no one else can. She takes common everyday people and makes them full of life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 1/15/2014

    " My first experience of Maeve Binchy, the characterisation was great and the story gently interesting, but it didn't grip me ( I guess its not really supposed to. I sometimes found my mind wandering. Well structured, well written but not for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beckynovacek | 1/13/2014

    " i love maeve binchy. in this book (as in most of hers)she does such an amazing job of developing tons of different characters to such a level that most authors struggle to do with one or two main characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kat | 12/29/2013

    " I enjoyed reading the short stories but by the end I had enough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbie | 12/23/2013

    " Really enjoyed this one. Am waiting for the next in the series. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joy | 12/23/2013

    " I gave up on this book3/4 way through, not the maeven binchy that I liked!!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emma | 12/15/2013

    " Entertaining enough to keep your attention...a little sappy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendolyn | 10/11/2013

    " First book I read of hers. I became a fan. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maureen | 10/3/2013

    " Hokey collection of stories with small town in Ireland as location as connecting theme. Still a enjoyable read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy G. | 7/8/2013

    " I love any book by Maeve..wasn't disappointed with this one either! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Suzy | 7/7/2013

    " Not the Maeve Binchy I remembered. Although some of the stories were intriguing, there were too many seemingly unrelated accounts of too many characters to keep track of. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beckie Shotwell | 1/28/2013

    " Yet another group of people you would like to meet. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeri Collins | 1/21/2013

    " Such a nice story. Loved the characters "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie Erickson | 10/13/2012

    " Many different characters that eventually get tied in together. Like her writing style. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eve | 8/4/2012

    " Maeve always gets five stars. Love every word she ever wrote. RIP "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelly | 7/20/2012

    " Interesting characters, but not a lot of substance to this book. I do like the Irish back drop and setting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lindsey | 1/15/2012

    " A fun, easy listen for a long drive. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darla Van | 12/15/2011

    " I started reading this in Deinze, Belgium, when Marleen borrowed it for me from the local library. I finished it last week, and I love the style of writing in this book - several little stories of seemingly unrelated people all pulled together at the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Todd | 12/4/2011

    " Read this one b/c my friend gave me 2 by her. I love the interweave of characters here. Again, like her other book, some implausible plot lines, but fun and enjoyable. Easy, quick read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brenda | 10/10/2011

    " Book on tape. Fun short stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 B. Mussen | 5/25/2011

    " This was a great book. Each person has a chapter and are intertwined around the shrine in Whitethorn Woods. A good read and a happy ending! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Madeline | 5/22/2011

    " This book is really a collection of short stories that are supposed to be interrelated. Some are but there is such a cast of characters it was hard to keep track of eveyone. I felt it was not as good as her other books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 5/21/2011

    " I haven't read Binchy in a long time. I must say this will not be my favorite! A LOT OF CHARACTERS!! Didn't really all tie in at the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annette | 5/8/2011

    " This was a lovely light book. It is filled with colorful characters and vivid description. Set in Ireland it leaves a nice 'taste'. I recommend it between your more 'serious' reads. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 5/8/2011

    " Good read but it's basically a group of short stories, most having to be read in pairs, and not a novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacy | 5/2/2011

    " It's the usual Maeve Binchy, nothing of major substance but enjoyable for a quick read. Told in a series of personal sketches all revolving around a well that is rumored to be protected by St. Ann who will grant your wishes if you pray or visit. Life in Ireland in a set of snapshots. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karrie | 4/27/2011

    " Crafted in an interesting manner, sort of a series of vignettes that all intertwine together and center on one town. Well done in Binchey's beloved manner of writing. You are drawn into the stories and forget for a moment that you are not yourself a resident of the Irish towns she writes about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 4/20/2011

    " Amazing probably is too high a rating; but, since I love all of her books, that is what I gave it. This book, like many of hers, is more a collection of short stories with characters and place(s) connected. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dajana | 4/15/2011

    " I actually did enjoy this book, and I would give certain sections of it five stars, but the ending of this book was really boring, as well as it the beginning so that reduced the books rating! Everything in between was spectacular though! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kim | 4/15/2011

    " I love Maeve Binchy, but this was my least favorite of her books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shauna | 4/4/2011

    " I usually love Maeve Binchy, but this one was just ok. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy | 4/3/2011

    " Can be a bit frustrating for those memory detail challenged, but with each chapter about a character and giving their story and perspective, it comes together very nicely towards the end. It's one that you can't wait to finish to see what happens, and delightfully it's not a predictable ending! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kay | 3/27/2011

    " Like her other novels, this one describes a great set of characters, and follows them through different problems in a small town in Ireland.
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lachell | 3/17/2011

    " Typical Maeve Binchey. I liked reading about so many different people with some very loose or significant connections. Some of the stories were more captivating than others, some of them very dark. Overall, it was intriguing and I enjoyed the book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mia | 3/10/2011

    " Right now, I'm not sure whether I'll finish this book. To me, it seems to not get going in a way, which makes it rather boring. "

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About the Author
Author Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy (1940–2012) was the author of numerous bestselling books, including Minding Frankie, Heart and SoulWhitethorn Woods, and Circle of Friends, as well as Tara Road, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. She contributed to GourmetO, The Oprah MagazineModern Maturity; and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. Married to Gordon Snell, she lived in Dalkey, Ireland, until her death in July 2012 at the age of seventy-two, shortly after finishing A Week in Winter.

About the Narrator

Jenny Sterlin, winner of multiple Earphones Awards, has more than seventy audio titles to her credit, including Laurie R. King’s popular Sherlock Holmes / Mary Russell series. Before beginning her narration career, she helped found England’s experimental Living Theatre.